Will the Coronavirus affect your broadband switch?

switching broadband

Ready to change provider, but wary that Coronavirus 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.

As more and more workers are forced to down tools due to the Coronavirus, it’s clear that very few businesses will be completely unaffected by operational challenges.

However, we’re pleased to be able to confirm that the overwhelming majority of broadband switches between the UK's major UK providers are currently unaffected by the ongoing public health crisis.

That means that if you use our site to change provider today, in most cases your switch won’t be delayed and you’ll be up and running with your new service just as quickly as you would before.

But there are a small number of exceptions.

These are switches that require an Openreach engineer to install your service, which have been impacted by the announcement from the UK's network infrastructure operator that it will not be sending engineers into people's homes while the public health crisis is ongoing.

So will your switch be affected? Below you’ll find a handy FAQ that we hope will answer your queries.

Which switches won't be affected?

If you’re switching between BT, Plusnet, The Post Office, SSE, Now Broadband, John Lewis, Shell Energy, TalkTalk, Sky or EE, all of whom use the Openreach network, the process for turning on your new service is as simple as flicking a switch.

These switches don't require an engineer, with installation handled by the customer. That goes whether you're signing up for basic broadband or a fibre-to-the-cabinet service, such as BT Fibre or Sky Broadband Superfast.

It's for this reason that you'll still be able to switch and that switching timeframes between these suppliers are the same as before the Coronavirus crisis.

If you're switching between one of the above suppliers to Virgin Media, there's a good chance you'll need an engineer to install your service.

But because Virgin Media operates its own network and own team of engineers that's separate from Openreach, you'll still be able to book one to complete your switch.

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 admit an engineer, they will observe social distancing guidelines.

In the event that your property has been connected to Virgin Media in the past, you'll be able to complete installation yourself. You'll just need a free QuickStart self-install pack.

And finally, if you're switching from an Openreach provider to Hyperoptic, which also has its own network and team of engineers, your switch should also be unaffected.

In all the instances above that means that changing provider will, as is standard, take about two weeks from the point when you cancel your existing service.

Which switches are affected?

Openreach has announced that it is stopping, limiting or delaying installations and engineer appointments as of 12pm on 24th March 2020. As it stands, it will not resume engineer appointments until 1st June.

The result is that if your broadband switch is one of the small proportion that requires an Openreach engineer to install your service, at present you may not be able to complete the switch.

The exception is the broadband installation is for someone deemed to be 'vulnerable', such as elderly people.

An example of a switch that will be affected by Openreach's policy on engineer visits is if you're switching to BT's or Sky's Ultrafast fibre-to-the-premises service.

If you're switching from Virgin Media or Hyperoptic to an Openreach provider, such as BT, EE or Sky, you may also encounter difficulties with your switch.

The best way to check if the process for your switch is impacted to contact the provider you're planning to join. You'll find details of how to get in touch further down the page.

Is there any chance I might be left without broadband?

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, downtime is likely to be a couple of hours.

If you can't be without broadband for that long, we'd suggest you use the tethering function on your phone.

This will allow you to use your mobile internet connection to get online with laptops, consoles, tables and any other internet-enabled gadget.

Will I need to let an engineer into my home to install my service?

At a time when we're trying to limit the spread of Coronavirus, it's sensible to not want to admit engineers to your home.

The good news is that in the majority of broadband switches, you don’t need an engineer to come to your home to change provider.

With switches between Openreach providers, the switchover is carried out remotely in its entirety.

If you’re switching from one of the Openreach providers mentioned above and joining Virgin Media, there's a fair chance you may need an engineer to install your service.

However, as indicated above, Virgin Media installs that do require an engineer can often be undertaken without having to admit them to your home, with the work carried out outside.

And in the event that in-home work is required, social distancing guidelines will be observed.

If your home has been connected to Virgin Media broadband before, you should be able to install the service yourself. All you'll require is QuickStart self-install pack.

We've also been assured that there’s no staffing shortage of Virgin Media engineers. So as is usually the case, you won’t have to wait any longer than two weeks to get an appointment.

Which deals are the best right now?

Ready to change provider? Here's our pick of today's standout broadband deals:

  • Superfast 2
    £100 Gift Card redeemable at Amazon.co.uk, Currys PC World, Marks and Spencer, John Lewis
    • Online Exclusive
    • Average speed* 63Mbps
    • Pay As You Go phone
    • Offer ends
    • £22.95 per month
    24 month contract
  • Superfast 1
    £100 Gift Card redeemable at Amazon.co.uk, Currys PC World, Marks and Spencer, John Lewis
    • Online Exclusive
    • Average speed* 35Mbps
    • Pay As You Go phone
    • Offer ends
    • £22.95 per month
    24 month contract

*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.

Help with switching

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.

Need to get in touch your provider for any reason? You’ll find contact details for all the main providers below:

Provider phone number Twitter and Facebook
BT: 0800 800 150



EE: 0800 956 6000



John Lewis:0800 022 3300



Gigaclear: 01865 591 131



Hyperoptic: 0333 332 1111



Now Broadband: None available



Plusnet: 0800 432 0200



Post Office: 0345 600 3210



TalkTalk: 0345 172 0088



Shell Energy Broadband: 0330 094580



Sky: 0800 151 2747



SSE: 0345 071 9890



Virgin Media: 0800 052 0422



Vodafone: 08080 034 515



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