Switching Broadband Providers


Switching during the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic

To give you some guidance during this difficult time, we have answered some of the most popular queries on switching broadband providers during the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Please note: the situation with Covid-19 is changing rapidly. The information here was correct as of 1 May 2020, but please check with your current or potential provider directly before making a decision. 


Can I switch broadband providers whilst under lockdown?

Yes, you can still switch broadband, but your options may be limited depending on your circumstances. Please see the table below for more information:

Current providerNew providerCan I switch?
OpenReach OpenReach

 Yes*

OpenReach Virgin/Hyperoptic/Gigaclear Yes
Virgin/Hyperoptic/Gigaclear OpenReach No
Virgin/Hyperoptic/Gigaclear Virgin/Hyperoptic/Gigaclear Yes


*Except when switching from ADSL broadband to full fibre at a property that hasn’t previously had fibre installed - most providers will run a remote ping test to check this first.


Will an engineer have to visit my home?

It depends on the provider and your circumstances. For example, if you’re switching from an OpenReach provider to another, there’s no need for an engineer to come inside (except in the situation explained above).

If you’re switching to Virgin from OpenReach, that would call for an engineer visit. Upgrading from standard broadband to full fibre would also involve an engineer.

If you’re conscious about having an engineer visit, it’d be best to check with your new provider before committing to anything. 


Can I switch if I’m vulnerable to the virus, or live with a vulnerable person?

The most sensible thing would be to follow government guidelines and only switch if you can do so without an engineer visit. 

Providers are doing what they can to keep the vulnerable safe and connected. For example, OpenReach is prioritising vulnerable customers and advising engineers to avoid entering customer properties.


If I can’t switch, how can I improve my broadband?

There are a number of changes you can make yourself to boost broadband speed. Another thing to consider is talking to your current provider, as they may be able to upgrade your package. 



How to switch broadband provider

You’ll probably save money by switching provider when your broadband deal ends.

Here’s how to do it right and avoid some common pitfalls like disconnection fees, termination charges and interrupted service.

 

Key points

 

To find out what broadband deals are available where you live, just enter your postcode into our comparison tool.

Once you’ve got your results, pay particular attention to these product details:

 

Speed

Pick a broadband service that's fast enough for you, but don’t pay for more than you need.

The advertised speed is the maximum you could get - in reality, it may be considerably slower (especially during peak times).

 

Download cap

Look out for caps that limit how much you can download.

If you exceed the limit, your broadband provider can ask you to either reduce your usage, or upgrade you to a more suitable (but more expensive) package.

You’ll probably also have to pay for usage in excess of the cap or, in extreme cases, your service could be suspended if you consistently exceed your limit.

Whether a capped package will save you money depends on the type of broadband user you are. If you regularly stream movies and play games, unlimited broadband is likely to be cheaper.

 

Contract length

Choose your contract length carefully as many providers will charge you for cancelling within the term or for moving house during it.

You may also want to check for hidden costs. Some offering shorter contracts (less than 12 months) will charge you an exit fee if you cancel.

In 2016, regulator Ofcom announced that consumers can't be charged a fee for cancelling if their provider raises prices unexpectedly. If a provider does decide to increase prices, it'll have to give customers 30 days notice, and if customers then decide to switch they can't be charged a penalty.

 

Connection and exit fee

Some broadband providers may charge a connection fee when you take out a contract.. Others may charge an exit fee if you cancel within a set time period. Check for these before switching to a new provider.

 

Monthly charge

This is the cost of your broadband package each month.

 

First-year cost

First-year cost is meant to be the true cost of a broadband package over the first year, taking into account any introductory offers, discounts or charges.

However, it doesn't normally include any line rental charges that you have to pay BT or your internet service provider (ISP) in order to use ADSL broadband. If you do pay these, remember to factor them into your monthly budget.

Not all broadband comparison sites will provide you with the first-year cost, but this information is crucial if one of your biggest concerns is price.

 

Read the small print

A good broadband comparison site will provide detailed product information so that you can make an informed choice before you buy.

If the comparison site you use doesn't calculate first-year costs on your behalf, then you should be able to find details of any charges in the small print.

 

Customer service and technical support

If the customer service and technical support you receive from a broadband provider is important to you, it's well worth reading both customer and independent reviews before committing to a contract.

 

Price versus service

Remember that the cheapest broadband isn't necessarily the best broadband for you. It may be worth spending a little more to get the broadband provider or package that's right for your needs.

 

Simplifying broadband switching with 'one touch'

In 2015, regulator Ofcom brought in a new 'one touch' switching process for millions of broadband and landline customers.

The changes affect consumers who use the Openreach telecoms network (which includes BT, EE, Sky and TalkTalk) but not cable, fixed wireless and satellite users.

Openreach customers now only need to make one phone call to their chosen new provider, after which the new provider will assume responsibility for the entire switching process.

The ‘one touch’ process gives customers an easy and consistent way to switch providers.

Consumers will receive written confirmation from both their old and new provider and will have the opportunity to cancel the switch if they change their mind.

Providers must keep a record of the customer's consent to switch to protect against 'slamming' (being transferred to a different provider without consent).