How to switch broadband: A quick guide

ByKim Staples
Woman using laptop

Tired of your broadband provider and want to switch to a new one? It’s easier than you think. We’re here to tell you how to change broadband provider to get those speeds, downloads, and extras you’ve always dreamed of in three very simple steps.

Before you do anything, check that you're no longer within the minimum terms of your contract with your current provider. Cancelling a contract before it's up can mean hefty termination fees.

But if all's well… let's get switching.

How to switch

1. Compare all your options

First of all, stick your postcode into our postcode checker, and we'll give you a list of all the broadband packages you can get in your area.

You can pick whether you want to look for broadband and phone, just broadband, or a combo broadband and TV package for some premium telly too. And make sure you filter and sort your results by all the stuff that's important to your household - whether that's superfast speeds, unlimited downloads, cheap prices, a preferred provider, inclusive phone calls, or even your favourite TV channels.

Want more info about the packages available to you? Take a look at our guides to each provider.

2. Pick one and sign up

Have a browse through your results, and when you spot a package that catches your eye - and suits your household's broadband needs and budget, of course - give it a click. This'll take you through to the provider's website where you can go ahead and sign up.

If you prefer to chat over the phone, however, you can call the number on your chosen package instead to talk to a representative.

3. You're done!

Yep, that's all there is to it! From here, your new broadband provider will get the ball rolling for your switch. They'll send you confirmation emails, and, in most cases, contact your current provider to get your old contract cancelled.

Over the next couple of weeks, you'll be given a date when your broadband will switch over, all your official documentation will arrive, and of course you'll be mailed a brand new router. All you need to do is set the router up and connect your devices.

Router with cables

FAQ

Do I need to contact my current broadband provider?

Generally, no. In the past, you needed to get a MAC, or 'migration authorisation code', from your old provider and give it to your new one so they can switch you - but there's no need for this any more. These days, your new provider will do all the running around for you.

However, there's one big exception to this. It only applies to providers that use the BT Openreach network (including BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Plusnet, and EE). If you're switching to or from a provider with its own network, like Virgin Media, you'll still need to contact your current one.

The other reason you may need to contact your old provider is if you want to cancel satellite TV, as it's delivered separately from broadband.

Are there any hidden costs to switching?

Your provider will be upfront about what costs you need to pay before you sign up to your new package. It's normal for this to include a charge for installation or connection - usually around £50 - and for the delivery of your router.

How long will I be without broadband for?

Usually, the changeover is speedy - you'll rarely be without broadband for more than a couple of hours at the absolute most. It might be longer if you're switching to or from a cable provider, though.

Will an engineer need to visit?

Probably not. The main part of switching doesn't usually happen within your home - and even in your home, it's pretty much just a case of plugging in your router once the connection is live. However, you will need an engineer visit in certain circumstances - such as if your house is new, or if a line needs to be set up. Your provider will tell you about this when you sign up.

Plus, if you're not confident setting the router up, you can request a visit from a lot of providers, though it'll probably cost extra.

What happens to my email account with my current provider?

That depends on who your provider is.

  • BT and Sky let you keep your old email indefinitely
  • Plusnet offers a mail-only package on request
  • Post Office deletes your address when you switch
  • TalkTalk lets you access your email address for 12 months, then deletes it
  • Virgin Media lets you access it for 90 days, then deletes it

Read our full guide to find out exactly what happens, and what you should do before your switch goes live.

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