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How to switch broadband providers

There are many reasons why you might want to switch broadband and change your internet provider. You may be looking for better value or service – or even faster speeds.

Whatever the reason for your decision, here’s how to change broadband providers in the most efficient and easy way possible.

There are many reasons why you might want to switch broadband and change your internet provider. You may be looking for better value or service – or even faster speeds.

Whatever the reason for your decision, here’s how to change broadband providers in the most efficient and easy way possible.

Written by
Sajni Shah
Utilities and digital expert
Last Updated
25 APRIL 2023
6 min read
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Why should I switch my broadband provider?

If you’ve been with the same broadband provider for a while, it’s worth checking to see whether you’re still getting a good deal. Broadband prices change all the time, and you may find that you can get faster speeds and better service for the same price you’re paying now – or even less.

Common reasons to switch broadband:

  • To save money – as broadband providers become more competitive, you might be able to bag yourself a faster deal at a cheaper price.
  • You want faster, more reliable broadband – superfast broadband is now available to over 97% of the UK. If you’re still on a slower ADSL contract, it may be time to upgrade.
  • You’re moving home – your current provider might not offer the same package or you may have faster coverage and a better choice of deals at your new address.
  • You’re out of contract – if your introductory offer has ended and you’re facing a price hike, all the more reason to switch to a cheaper broadband deal.

How to switch broadband provider

1. Check your contract terms

If you want to switch before your contract ends, you might have to pay an exit fee. That’s unless you can prove your broadband speed falls below the minimum guaranteed when you signed up to the deal. Make sure any cancellation fees are less than the amount you could save by switching.

2. See what’s available in your area

To see what’s available where you live, use our broadband postcode checker. Simply tell us your postcode, current provider and what you’re looking for (broadband or broadband and TV) – and we’ll show you a list of packages to choose from.

3. Choose a deal

Comparing broadband deals with Comparethemarket couldn’t be easier. Simply click on the deal you’re interested in. Check the details to make sure the deal is the right one for you, then click ‘Visit now’ to go to the provider’s website.

Steps to switching broadband providers

Once you’ve found the right broadband deal, your new provider should arrange the switch for you. This includes letting your current provider know you’re moving.

Your new and old broadband providers will both contact you to confirm the move. Then they’ll let you know your transfer date and if there are any outstanding charges to pay.

What if my new broadband provider can’t arrange the switch?

If your new provider doesn’t arrange the switch, simply follow these three easy steps:

  • Contact your new broadband provider and ask when they can transfer you to the new contract
  • Book the date for the transfer
  • Call your old provider to confirm that you want to cancel on the day your new service starts.

How much does it cost to switch broadband?

The price of your monthly broadband is just one part of your package. Along with early exit fees, connection charges and line rental, make sure you consider the cost of:

  • Set-up fees
  • New router charge
  • Technical support costs
  • Upfront fees, such as set-top boxes or WiFi boosters.

Each provider has its own fees and charges, so be sure to check.

When should I switch broadband?

If you have a fixed-term contract, it’s usually best to wait until it comes to an end before making the switch. If you switch mid-contract, you’ll likely have to pay an early exit charge. This could be quite high, so make sure to check and factor this into your switching costs.

End of contract notifications
It’s now compulsory for broadband providers to let you know when your contract is coming to an end. This is called an end of contract notification (ECN). When you receive your ECN, you’ll have the option of staying put and paying a more expensive tariff or switching to another provider free of charge.

There are, however, a couple of times when you could break your contract early without paying a penalty:

If you’re not getting the minimum speed promised
Under Ofcom rules, you may not need to pay a penalty if you leave your contract early because you’re not getting the speed you were promised. However, you need to contact your provider first and give them the chance to fix the problem. And check your provider’s minimum speed guarantee terms and conditions, too.

Mid-contract price rises
Broadband providers can apply mid-contract price rises, which usually take place in April each year. However, any increases must be set out clearly in their terms and conditions.

If there are any price rises that aren’t mentioned in the T&Cs, you’ll have the option of breaking your contract and switching without penalty.

What to consider when choosing a broadband provider

Before deciding on which provider is right for your broadband needs, have a think about:

Broadband speed

Knowing how fast your broadband is, and whether it’s too slow for your needs, will give you a good idea of what to look for in a new contract. It’ll also show you whether you’re getting the speed you were promised. Broadband speeds will vary, depending on your broadband package and the type of broadband you have.

Test your broadband speed using our broadband speed checker.

Bundles

Depending on what you want from your service, combining your broadband with a phone or TV package can often work out cheaper than paying for separate services.

Broadband and phone

Broadband, phone and TV

Broadband and TV

Reviews

To help you choose the right provider, read independent reviews of their services. Ofcom publishes research showing customer satisfaction with broadband providers – not just in terms of speed, but also how happy customers are with value for money and overall service.

Ready to make the switch?

Whether you’re looking for better service or a new package that includes landline and TV, we can help you compare prices to find a broadband deal that’s right for you.

Frequently asked questions

Will I lose service during the switch?

You shouldn’t lose your broadband service. Switching providers is usually smooth and you should be able switch with little or no interruption. Your new provider will tell you when the switch will happen and if you’ll experience any loss of service.

If you’re only switching your broadband (and keeping your existing phone line) – you should only experience a few minutes of downtime during the automated switchover.

If you’re also switching landline providers – check with your new provider that there’s no additional downtime. That way you can make plans to minimise any disruption.

How long does it take to switch broadband?

It usually takes about two weeks to switch broadband provider, although it may take longer if you need any installation or engineering work done. That doesn’t mean you’ll be without internet though – you should only have a few minutes of downtime.

Can I keep my landline phone number if I switch?

You can usually keep your landline number when you switch. You’ll often see this a checkbox in your new contract. Your new provider will then tell your old provider about the transfer.

But if you’re moving house at the same time as switching, you might not be able to keep your landline number.

Can I keep my email address when I switch?

Some internet service providers (ISPs) let you keep your ISP email when you switch – although sometimes at a cost. Others will delete your email when you leave.

If your email’s going to be deleted, you’ll usually get a grace period – during which you can access messages and save everything before you lose the account. You can use this grace period to create an email address not connected to your broadband, perhaps through Gmail or Hotmail, and set up an automatic forwarding request for e-mail from the address you’re going to lose. You can also start changing your email address on your accounts.

Do I need to cancel my broadband before switching?

If you’re switching between completely different types of broadband – for example, moving from cable broadband from Virgin to a fibre optic service from BT (or vice versa) – your old service can’t be switched automatically. You’ll need to cancel your existing provider and start a new contract with a new provider.

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