We show you how to switch broadband provider with the minimum of fuss.
There are countless reasons why you might want to change your broadband supplier. Perhaps your current supplier isn’t providing the kind of service you had expected, or it turns out you want more from your broadband connection than your current deal can give you. If you’ve been with the same broadband provider for a while, it’s also likely the price you’re paying is no longer competitive.
Whatever your reason, switching to a new supplier doesn’t have to be a hassle. We show you what to do to ensure your broadband switch goes smoothly.
Before deciding where to switch next, it’s worth taking the time to find out exactly what your current deal offers you. Find out what your current connection speed is, how long your contract lasts for, and how much it costs you per month. If you aren’t sure of any of these details, for example if your broadband comes part of a telephone/television package and you aren’t sure what it costs on its own, contact your supplier.
Most broadband packages nowadays come with a 12-18 month contract. If you have already passed this initial period you’ll be free to leave whenever you like, but otherwise you may have to wait a few months longer before switching. That is unless the service from your current provider has been particularly appalling, in which case you may be able to make the argument that they have fallen short of their service agreement.
The next thing you need to do is to research what’s on offer on the broadband market. The number of different broadband packages available has increased hugely in the last few years, meaning there is a greater degree of choice, which in turn leads to a greater degree of competition. It’s important to compare all the deals offered to find one that’s right for you.
It might help to make a list of what you want from your broadband deal, for example what connection speed you want. You may want to opt for a higher speed if you regularly watch movies or listen to music online, for example, but if you use the internet more for email and web-surfing, you might be happy with a standard speed of 2Mb (megabytes) or so.
Similarly you should consider what you want from your download limit. Many packages now offer unlimited downloads, but this will obviously cost you more. A standard download limit is about 5GB (gigabytes).
There are several other factors you’ll have to consider too when deciding where to switch. Many packages involve a set-up fee, which could be as much as £100, so this will need to be taken into consideration. Also look into the minimum contract period – some providers now tie you in for as much as 24 months, which won’t suit you if you anticipate changing providers in less than 2 years.
Once you’ve decided you want to switch and where to switch to, you’ll need to contact your current provider. Don’t actually cancel your account at this stage, but ask for a MAC (Migration Authorisation Code). This code will enable you to switch from your current supplier to a new one. You’ll need to get hold of your MAC unless you currently have broadband by cable, such as with Virgin Media. At this point it's also a good idea to ask your provider to confirm how much notice they will need to cancel your contract.
You can then sign up with your new provider, and give them your MAC to enable the switch. They will give you an anticipated date for your completed switch, at which point you can cancel your old account.
It’s very likely that your old provider will try their best to persuade you to stay, because it’s important for suppliers to keep as many ongoing customers as they can. If they are being particularly sticky about the matter, for example delaying the cancellation of your service, you can complain to Ofcom who will make sure the situation is resolved. It's also possible that your provider could be willing to renegotiate your deal with them to match or better the deal you're getting with your new provider.
Remember to take into account all the costs involved in switching before you make the leap from one supplier to the next. As well as the connection/set-up fee there may be a new line rental cost. Also try to find out how much it will cost you to call technical support should you run into any problems, and if there is any charge for exceeding a download limit, for example. Taking all these factors into consideration should ensure you have a smooth and hassle-free switch.