If you want a faster broadband connection, there are several things you can try before switching. Our guide to speeding up your broadband explains how.
How do you switch?
Switching to a new broadband supplier is easier than you might think. Just follow these four simple steps:
Step 1: Check that you can leave your existing provider without charge
Step 2: Choose a new broadband package
Step 3: Contact your new provider
Step 4: Cancel your current contract, if necessary
The process is the same regardless of which supplier you choose, as long as you use the same phone number for your phone and internet.
Can you switch before your contract ends?
Yes, you can switch during the term of an existing contract but you may incur an early exit fee or cancellation charge.
Cancellation fees vary but most suppliers will charge you for the remaining monthly payments you have left on your contract. Others charge a fixed cancellation fee which can be as much as £80 to leave within the first 12 months.
Early termination fees may not apply in some cases, including:
If you are within your 14 day cooling off period.
If you give your existing supplier a set period of notice.
If you have already finished your initial contract period.
If your supplier makes changes to your monthly price plan. Price increases must be confirmed in writing at least 30 days before the changes take place.
If you receive poor service that fails to meet Ofcom standards.
Poor service includes bad customer service, slow broadband speed, delays in installation, and frequent disruptions to service.
If you believe that poor service entitles you to cancel your existing contract without penalty, you will need to build up a case file and present it to the Communications Ombudsman or the Communications and Internet Services Adjudication Scheme (CISAS).
Has your contract already ended?
If your contract is up, your only costs should be any further usage since your last bill.
If you are on a rolling contract you may still need to give notice to cancel, so check this with your existing provider before switching.
How to get the best deal
There are a whole range of broadband packages available, with many suppliers offering discounts for product bundles like broadband and TV.
Different suppliers can offer a variety of options, price plans, speeds and data limits. Many run introductory deals for new customers or offer discounts at certain times of year.
You should compare as many suppliers as possible to find the best deal before you switch your broadband service.
You should consider the cost of line rental, even if you take out a broadband only package because most broadband services need a phone line to operate.
How do you switch?
Once you have chosen your new supplier and the best package for you, actually switching your service is relatively straightforward.
Cancel your existing package
If you plan on transferring your existing service from one supplier to another, there is no need to contact your current supplier to cancel.
Just choose the right package and your new provider will take care of cancelling your existing contract.
However, if you are switching to or from a fibre network provider like Virgin Media, you will need to cancel your existing service first and then contact your new supplier to start your new service.
This is called cease and re-provide and you should allow some overlap between the start of your new service and the end of your old service to make sure you are not left without an internet connection.
If you use an email address supplied by your old provider, set up a new account, notify your contacts of your change of email address and turn on auto forwarding to make sure you receive emails sent to your old address.
What if your existing supplier refuses to end your contract?
If your existing supplier will not release you from your contract, you should complain to their customer service team. Keep a record of who you speak with, including times and dates and any email correspondence you send or receive.
If your supplier fails to resolve your complaint within eight weeks or you receive a deadlock letter, you can escalate it through the Communications Ombudsman or with CISAS.
How much does it cost to switch?
Switching itself does not cost anything, but your old provider may charge you:
Early exit fees or cancellation charges
Monthly payment for your old service until your contract finishes
You may also be asked to return any equipment, like your broadband router or TV set-top box.
Your new supplier may include the cost of installation and setup charges. This will include new equipment and an engineer visit, if required.
Make sure you check the setup costs before you switch provider and read the small print in your contract to avoid any nasty surprises.
How long does it take?
If you are switching from one provider to another you may not experience any disruption to your service at all and the process could be complete in just a few days.
However, if you are moving house or switching to or from fibre service, the process can take several weeks.
You could use mobile broadband as a cheap temporary alternative to your usual service while the switch is taking place. Just make sure that you factor the potential downtime into your plans to avoid any unnecessary disruption.