Will the Coronavirus affect your broadband switch?

broadband  switching during corona virus lockdown

Ready to change provider, but wary that COVID-19 could delay your switch? Maybe you're worried you could be without a service if you switch now? broadbandchoices takes a look at how providers are coping and what it means for you.

Good news: despite what you may have read in some newspapers in recent weeks, broadband switches are going ahead as normal.

That means that if you use our site to change provider today not only will you be able to switch, you’ll be up and running with your new service as quickly as usual, too.

So if you were thinking of upgrading to a faster broadband deal that'll handle the demands of home-working, video streaming or online gaming, now's the time to take action.

Ready to switch? Use our postcode checker to see what's available where you live:

Switching between Openreach providers

ADSL broadband and fibre-to-the-cabinet broadband from BT, EE, John Lewis, Now Broadband, Plusnet, Shell Energy, Sky, The Post Office, SSE, TalkTalk, Vodafone and most other household-name providers is delivered by the shared Openreach network.

And the good news is that when you’re switching between them, you don’t need an engineer to come to your home to install your service.

In most instances, you can install it yourself and you’ll simply need to connect your router and turn it on.

The sole exceptions are when you’re switching to an ultrafast fibre-to-the-premises service, where in-home installation is usually required.

After suspending in-home installations in some circumstances at the onset of the Coronavirus crisis, Openreach is now undertaking these as normal, while continuing to observe social distancing and safety guidelines.

Below we take a case-by-case look at how switching between Openreach providers works and how your switch is likely to progress.

Switching information by provider

Find the provider you're looking to join for specific information about your switch.

Switching to BT during COVID-19 restrictions

BT

For the majority of installations where no in-home installation is required, BT will send out Smart Hubs and TV boxes as usual via courier. So you can install your service yourself.

BT is also undertaking switches where an in-home visit from an engineer is required.

Which switches require in-home installation?

Switches to BT ADSL or Fibre (up to 76Mbps) from any other provider on the Openreach network are self-install. You'll be sent the kit you need and can get your service up and running with no need for an engineer.

Switches to BT's Ultrafast fibre-to-the-premises service (sometimes called ‘full fibre’) will generally require a home visit, which are continuing as normal with engineers adhering to safety guidelines.

The exception is in some newbuild homes that may already be equipped for full fibre, or homes where the previous occupant has already had it installed.

Switching to TalkTalk during COVID-19 restrictions

TalkTalk

Most customers switching to TalkTalk will receive a quick start kit in the post. This will contain a router that they can plug in and have service immediately.

In a small number of switches, installation is required. These are going ahead as normal, with engineers continuing to observe safety guidelines.

Which switches require in-home installation?

Switches to TalkTalk’s Fast Broadband ADSL service or Superfast Fibre packages from another Openreach provider are self-install. So you won't need an engineer visit.

Switches to TalkTalk’s ultrafast Fibre 150 or Ultra Fibre Optic ‘full fibre’ packages from another Openreach provider generally require a home visit from an engineer to install a new connection. These are going ahead as normal, with engineers adhering to public health advice when entering homes.

You may not require an in-home visit if you're in a newbuild home that's already be equipped for ultrafast broadband, or homes where the previous occupant has already had it installed.

Switching to Sky during COVID-19 restrictions

Sky Broadband

Most switches to Sky broadband packages don't require an engineer visit and in the event they do, installation can generally be completed from outside the premises.

If the engineer has to enter your home to complete the installation, they will observe social distancing regulations.

Which switches require an engineer and in-home visit?

Switches to any Sky broadband ADSL or fibre broadband package from any Openreach provider are self-install, unless you do not have an active phone line.

Switches to Sky Ultrafast ‘full fibre’ offering generally requires a home visit from an engineer to install a new connection.  These are going ahead as normal, with engineers observing public health guidelines when entering homes.

The exception is in some newbuild homes that may already be equipped for ultrafast broadband, or homes where the previous occupant has already had it installed.

Switches to a Sky broadband and TV package require a satellite dish to be installed are going ahead as normal.

Switching to Plusnet during COVID-19 restrictions

Plusnet Broadband

Plusnet engineers are activating connections where the visit can be done from outside the property, as well as new line installations where an in-home visit is required.

In instances where you do require an in-home visit, the engineer will observe social distancing guidelines.

Which switches require in-home installation?

Switches to Plusnet Unlimited ADSL broadband or Unlimited Fibre packages from another Openreach provider are self-install.

In the event you don't have an active line you may require a visit from an engineer, who will observe public health guidelines when entering your home.

Switching to EE during COVID-19 restrictions

Switches to EE are going ahead as normal, with self-install packs for most instances or engineer visits where customers do not have an active line.

If a visit is required, the engineer will observe social distancing guidelines.

Which switches require in-home installation?

Switches to EE’s ADSL Standard Broadband or Fibre Broadband from any other Openreach provider are self-install. However, you'll need an engineer if you don't have an active line.

Switches to EE’s Fibre Max 1 or Fibre Max 2 fibre-to-the-premises service from another Openreach provider’s fibre-to-the-cabinet or ADSL broadband generally requires a home visit from an engineer, which are going ahead as normal.

The exception is in homes where an ultrafast service has been installed by a previous occupant, or in some newbuild properties that are already equipped for full fibre.

Switching to Vodafone during COVID-19 restrictions

Vodafone Broadband

Vodafone is carrying out new line installations where required, while anyone with an active line will be provided with a quick start kit to install their service themselves.

Where a home visit is necessary, your engineer will observe social distancing guidelines.

Which switches require in-home installation?

Switches to Vodafone’s fibre-to-the-cabinet Superfast 1 or Superfast 2 service from another Openreach provider are self-install. Unless you don't have an active line, when in-home installation is required.

Switches to Vodafone’s ultrafast Gigafast service generally require in-home installation. These are being undertaken as normal.

The exception is newbuild homes that are already provisioned for ultrafast broadband. Or homes where a previous occupant has had an ultrafast service installed.

Switching to Now Broadband during COVID-19 restrictions

Now Broadband

Now Broadband is sending quick start kits for anyone with an active line and carrying out in-home installations where required.

Where a home visit is required, the engineer will abide by social distancing, public health guidelines.

Which switches require in-home installation?

Switches to Now Broadband’s Brilliant Broadband, Fab Fibre or Super Fibre from any Openreach provider are self-install. But if you don't have an active line, you'll require an engineer visit.

Switching to John Lewis during COVID-19 restrictions

John Lewis Broadband

John Lewis is sending self-install kits for most switches, so you can carry out the work required yourself.

In instances where a home visit is required, these are going ahead as normal, with engineers observing social distancing guidelines.

Which switches require in-home installation?

Switches to John Lewis’s Unlimited Broadband, Fibre or Fibre Extra from another Openreach provider’s ADSL or fibre-to-the-cabinet broadband are self-install. The exception is if you don't have an active phone line, when in-home installation is necessary.

Switching to SSE during COVID-19 restrictions

SSE Broadband

Switches to SSE are going ahead as normal, with self-install packs for customers who have an active line.

In instances where an engineer is required and they have to enter your home to complete installation, they will observe public health guidelines on social distancing.

Which switches require in-home installation?

Switches to SSE’s fibre-to-the-cabinet Unlimited Fibre and Unlimited Fibre Plus from another Openreach provider are self-install.

If you don't have an active line, an engineer will need to visit your home and will adhere to safety guidelines for social distancing.

Switching to Shell Energy during COVID-19 restrictions

Shell Energy Broadband

Shell Energy installations are going ahead as normal, with quick start kits for anyone with an active line.

In instances where a home visit is required, they will observe social distancing guidelines.

Which switches require in-home installation?

Switches to Shell Energy’s Fast Broadband, Superfast Fibre or Superfast Fibre Plus from another Openreach provider won't require an engineer.

If you don't have an active phone line, you can still switch to Shell Energy but you'll require an in-home visit.

Switching to The Post Office during COVID-19 restrictions

The Post Office Broadband

Switching to The Post Office is as normal and the majority of customers switching with an existing line will get a quick start kit in the post and do not require an engineer to be able to switch.

If you don't have an active line, you'll require an engineer, who will observe social distancing guidelines when entering your home.

Which switches require in-home installation?

Switches to The Post Office’s Unlimited Broadband, Unlimited Fibre Broadband or Fibre Broadband Plus packages from another Openreach provider’s ADSL broadband are self-install and won't require an engineer.

However, you currently cannot sign up for Post Office broadband package from a comparison site. The Post Office is only accepting switches when you sign up directly from its own site.

Switching between Openreach providers and Virgin Media

If a postcode check shows you are in a Virgin Media service area and your home has been connected to Virgin Media in the past, you'll be able to switch and you may not require an engineer at all.

In this instance, you should be able to complete installation yourself. You'll just need a free QuickStart self-install pack.

In other cases you may need a home visit from a Virgin Media engineer.

In the event that you do need an engineer visit, Virgin Media, which operates its own team of engineers that's separate from Openreach, and is undertaking in-home installations.

It's also worth noting that even where a Virgin Media engineer is required, the work will often take place outside the premises. And if you do need to an in-home installation, the engineer will observe social distancing guidelines.

If you’re switching from Virgin Media to an Openreach provider’s fibre-to-the-cabinet or ADSL broadband service, you'll be able to do so without an engineer as long as you have an active phone line at your address.

If you don’t, you’ll require an in-home visit from an Openreach engineer. These are going ahead as normal.

Virgin Media has also informed us that customers who sign up for its Ultimate Oomph package and want a multi-room service won't get their second box installed until after 15th June. This may necessitate a second engineer visit, which normally takes place within two weeks.

Is there any chance I might be left without broadband?

No. Because the switching process between BT, Plusnet, The Post Office,SSE, Now Broadband, John Lewis, Shell Energy,TalkTalk, Sky or EE, is so simple, the time your service is down will be no more than a few minutes.

So you can rest assured that you won’t be left without broadband at a juncture when it’s critical you stay connected. Whether you’re working from home. Or just trying to keep yourself entertained while you’re in self-isolation.

When you're switching between an Openreach provider and Virgin Media and Hyperoptic, we suggest you book your new provider to start a day before your old provider finishes services if you are worried about downtime.

Because these come down a different cable, there's no problem with running two services in parallel.

Switching to Hyperoptic under COVID-19 restrictions

You’ll be able to switch to Hyperoptic fibre-to-the-cabinet and full-fibre provided you’re in an area covered by its service. To find out, use Hyperoptic’s postcode checker.

In the majority of cases, you’ll require an in-home engineer visit to install your service.

Hyperoptic has confirmed that where visits are required, its engineers are observing government guidelines on social distancing.

Switching to Gigaclear under COVID-19 restrictions

You can switch to Gigaclear if you’re in area covered by its network. To find out, enter your postcode in its availability checker.

Most Gigaclear installations will require a home visit from an engineer. In these instances, Gigaclear engineers are adhering to government social distancing guidelines.

Upgrading your package with my current provider

If you're on a basic fibre-to-the-cabinet package with an Openreach provider (e.g: BT's Fibre 1 or Sky Broadband Superfast), you should still able to upgrade to a faster fibre-to-the-cabinet service with the same provider, with no need for a home visit from an engineer.

However, if you're upgrading from an ADSL or fibre-to-the-cabinet service to an ultra-fast fibre-to-the-premises service, you'll probably require in-home installation. The same goes for upgrading to a fibre-to-premises service.

Virgin Media customer? You'll be able to upgrade to a faster Virgin Media cable broadband service.

Adding TV to your package

If you're an existing broadband customer with BT, Now Broadband, EE, or Virgin Media, you'll also be able to add TV to your package from the same provider and won't require an engineer.

But if you're a Sky broadband customer and want to add TV to your package, installation is likely to be required unless you already have a satellite dish attached to your home.

How the engineer will approach your installation

First and foremost, it's important to note that your Openreach engineer will try to complete installation without having to enter your home at all. But in the event that they do have to come inside, they'll look to minimise the time they spend in your property.

As you'd expect, engineers will be complying with social distancing regulations and will be taking extra precautions to prevent the spread of infection.

To help your engineer and minimise risk, it’s a good idea to take the following precautions before your visit:

  • Make a clear path to the telephone socket by clearing chairs and other obstacles
  • Clean any surfaces near the telephone socket with an anti-bacterial wipe
  • Open windows and doors in rooms where the engineer is likely to be working

Once the engineer is inside, it’s advisable that you…

  • Try and ensure there’s only one person in the room with them.
  • Observe social distancing regulations

Which deals are the best right now?

With government advice still recommending office workers do their jobs from home where possible, now's a very good time to consider switching to a faster broadband package that can handle the demands of home-working.

The same goes if your current service offers speeds too slow for uninterrupted video streaming.

With that in mind, we've picked out a selection of recommended fibre broadband packages, teaming good speeds with keen prices:

Online exclusive Sport + Fibre 2
New customers only Offer ends 01/10/2020
Online exclusive M100 Fibre Broadband Only
New customers only Offer ends 30/09/2020
Online exclusive Fibre 1
New customers only Offer ends 01/10/2020
Online exclusive Superfast Fibre
New customers only Offer ends 30/09/2020
Online exclusive Big bundle
New customers only Offer ends 27/09/2020

*Average speeds are based on the download speeds of at least 50% of customers at peak time(8pm to 10pm). Speed can be affected by a range of technical and environmental factors. The speed you receive where you live may be lower than that listed above. You can check the estimated speed to your property prior to purchasing.

If you haven’t switched before or you feel you need a helping hand, we’ve got you covered. Take a look at our top ten switching tips and we’ll walk you through the process.

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