How to switch broadband - a guide to changing your provider

broadband when moving home
Image credit: Shutterstock (Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you’ve never switched from one broadband provider to another, you might be under the impression the process can be long and confusing – but in reality, it’s quite simple. It can usually be sorted out in just a few easy steps, meaning you’ll be making the most of your new (and hopefully improved) broadband deal in no time.

That said, it’s still worth understanding the whole process first. There are some considerations to make to help avoid things like broadband downtime or potentially incurring unexpected contract exit fees. 

To help with this, we’ve put together this guide that covers everything you need to know about switching broadband providers. We’ve even thrown in some extra guidance around how to ensure you get yourself the best new deal possible. Read on for all the details! 

Fibre broadband deals

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How to switch your broadband

Whatever your reasoning for switching your broadband, here are the steps you'll need to follow to make sure everything runs smoothly:

1. Check the terms of your current broadband contract

First of all, if your current contract hasn’t ended yet, you should check to see if you’ll need to pay any exit fees or penalty charges if you do decide to leave early. This will likely be the case, but it’s best to be sure so you don’t get caught out.

However, the UK broadband regulator, Ofcom, does say that ‘you can leave your provider without being penalised if you’re not getting the broadband speeds you were promised when you entered the contract’. So if you're having any sort of speed issues or not getting the minimum speeds set forth in your contract, you may be able to avoid penalties. 

2. Find and choose a new broadband deal

Once you’ve determined your circumstances for switching, the next thing to do is to shop around to find a new provider and package – something we can assist you with courtesy of our best broadband deals guide. There are plenty of great deals available, some even have bonuses like credits and gift cards, so dive in to see what new plan fits you best.

You can also enter your postcode into the widget at the bottom of this page and we can show you the exact deals on offer in your area right now.

3. Enquire about your chosen new broadband deal

Next, you simply need to contact the provider about the deal that’s piqued your interest. It might be that you go via a separate website or promotional link you’ve found, or that you go directly to the supplier themselves.

4. Let your old broadband provider know you’re leaving (if you need to)

This step won’t apply to everyone, as if you’re switching between providers who supply their broadband via the Openreach network, the move across will be handled between each company.

However, if you’re moving between firms with their own networks, you may need to let your old provider know what’s happening and when so your account gets properly closed.

5. Arrange your engineer visit

In some cases, an engineer will need to make a visit to install any hardware required for your new connection. This won't always be the case, but make sure you account for this if moving house so you can plan things accordingly. 

Considerations when switching

Common reasons for switching

Before we look at the switching process, it’s important to review some of the common reasons why consumers often decide to change their broadband packages  – this could help you decide if you’re still a little on the fence! 

  • To make savings with a cheaper tariff
  • You’re out of contract with your existing provider
  • To get a faster package in terms of average download and upload speeds
  • To change to a ‘bundle’ deal, for example, with a TV package included.
  • You move to a different property where you can’t access the services of your previous provider

What to consider when selecting a new broadband provider

It’s also important to do your checks and research on a potential broadband provider to make sure they’re the right fit for you. Don’t just be lured by the deal. 

This is something we’ve covered in our guide on how to find the best broadband provider. This goes over everything from reviewing the online needs of your household to assessing the quality of a provider’s overall services – and with the advice in this piece, you should be able to find a dependable broadband supplier.

fibre broadband deals

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Broadband switching FAQs

Broadband switching FAQs

While the above should take you through the switching process, there are still a couple of areas on this subject where you might need further clarification. So we’ve rounded up some of the most common additional questions consumers tend to have:

Can I keep my current email if I switch broadband provider?

For the most part yes, but not all providers will allow you to keep your old email. We cover this in more detail in this guide, but Sky, for instance, allows you to keep your old email address so long as you keep using it, whereas Virgin Media will delete your old account 90 days after you’ve left.

Can I keep my current phone number if I switch broadband provider?

This also depends on what service your provider can offer. Traditional phone lines are being phased out as the UK’s broadband network gets upgraded, but invariably there can be ways to still have a phone via your internet and keep your old number. 

Again, the best course of action is to ask the provider when you speak to them about switching.

How long does it take to switch my broadband provider?

There’s no set length of time but usually, your broadband can be switched over within two weeks. What’s more, the actual transition can be seamless so you’ll face minimum disruption to your service. 

However, if you need an engineer to come and install a new connection, this can make the switching process much longer.

Will I need to have any work done to my house when switching?

It might be the case that you need to have a new connection fitted to give your property access to a new or existing broadband network. The nature of the work itself can vary depending on what - if any - connections are already in place. Generally speaking though, this shouldn’t take much more than a day.

What do I do if I’m not happy with my new broadband provider?

Usually, a provider will have a ‘cooling-off period’ in your first month. This can ensure that if you find yourself increasingly dissatisfied with your new service, you can cancel it and move to another supplier without paying any exit fees. 

Although this agreement and the timeframes involved do vary from provider to provider, so you’ll need to again check to see what it says in your contract.

Best broadband deals

Ready to switch broadband providers but still haven't found the best one for you? Don't sweat it! Use our handy comparison tool below to find the latest & greatest deals available to you. Just enter your post code below to see all the best hand-picked broadband deals! 

Richard Hart

Rich is a freelance copywriter and content strategist with over 10 years' experience. His career has seen him work in-house and in various agencies, producing online and offline content marketing campaigns and copywriting for clients in the energy industry.