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Under the new system your switch works in one of two ways. Either your new provider handles everything, or you need to also cancel your existing service or parts of that service. Either way, the first thing you do is to sign up to your new provider online or over the phone, they'll then let you know if you need to do anything else. In the majority of cases, your chosen new provider then leads the entire process of migrating everything over to the products you've chosen, with no need for you to contact your old provider.

This means that there are fewer phone calls or unexpected charges, and less risk of losing your phone number during your switch. If your current provider also supplies you with a television service, or if you're moving to or from a cable or full-fibre service like those from Virgin Media or Hyperoptic, then the situation may be a little more complicated see How to switch broadband provider below but in all cases the best thing to do is to start with your new provider who will advise you whether you need to also get in touch with your current provider in order to proceed.

Unhappy with your current provider but not sure if switching to another will be too much hassle? This section examines common concerns than many people have when they consider changing broadband suppliers. Under the new switching process, you're much less likely to experience lengthy downtime when switching broadband providers.

Your new provider will advise you when the switch will happen and if you can expect any loss of service while it takes place. If you're only switching your broadband on your telephone line and not any bundled phone service you're changing between two broadband-only suppliers then you will experience only a few minutes of downtime as the switch automatically takes place. In fact, you are often given some choice in when the switch will take place so that it's not at an inconvenient time.

If you're also switching who you pay for phone calling and line rental at the same time as your broadband changing to a broadband and phone suppler then there may be a bit more downtime as an engineer may have to visit your local exchange to make changes to your line, but this shouldn't be long, at most a few hours. If you're switching between types of broadband that are delivered into your home in different ways such as going from standard phone line broadband to Virgin Media cable broadband, or from Virgin Media to a part-fibre service like Plusnet Fibre that uses the phone lines then your old service cannot be switched automatically and must be fully cancelled and replaced with a new service.

Cancelling one service then signing up for another could cause a lot of down time, but there's no reason why your old connection has to be switched off before your new service can be activated. As they're totally separate to each other, you can have both running at the same time, until you're sure that the new broadband service works and you're happy with it.

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Remember, thanks to distance selling regulations, you have 14 days to decide to leave your new service after you agree to the contract. Be careful though, cable or full-fibre services like Virgin Media and Hyperoptic tend to provide phone as an entirely separate optional add-on, so cancelling this wouldn't end your broadband service. In most cases your new provider will do all the work to end your contract with your current provider.

After signing up, you'll receive a letter from the old provider outlining anything that hasn't been automatically cancelled and any remaining costs you have to pay.


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This letter will also give you 14 days in which to cancel the switch. If you're outside of the minimum contract term you signed up for with your old provider then all you should usually expect to pay is the cost of any calls and usage since your last bill, and possibly a small charge to make changes in your telephone exchange. Having a little overlap may in fact be in your benefit as this scenario will usually mean you're switching to a service delivered to your home over a separate line or cable , so you'll be able to run both broadband services in parallel without downtime while the new service is installed.

Some broadband suppliers offer or require you to have line rental with them in order to provide you with broadband. In these cases you should be aware of any line rental contracts you have with other telephone companies, such as BT, to make sure that you're not tied into anything that may prevent you from switching, or mean you lose out financially. For example, if you paid for a year of line rental upfront then you change to another phone provider after 6 months, you usually won't get a refund for the 6 months of extra line rental you don't use.

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A number of providers have a choice of contracts lengths available. The longer 12 or 18 month contracts are often cheaper or come with a free router. There may also be 1 month contracts available so you can switch providers whenever you choose, although setup fees may be higher. If you're interested in switching to a broadband supplier with a short-term contract, take a look at the latest short contract deals here.

Under the old switching system switching between particular providers could sometimes result in losing your phone number. This was because the same phoneline had to have its service stopped and then restarted by a new provider, as if it was a new line.

Under the new system this should never need to happen so your phone number shouldn't be at risk. All services should be transferred at the same time, so you should only experience a minimal loss of service. In cases where your new provider advises you that you'll have to contact your old provider to cancel that service, this will usually mean that your old service is on a separate line or cable to your new service.

As such, the process of changing phone numbers should simply be Ofcom's standard process for 'porting' a phone number from one line to another. Simply contact your new provider and advise them that you want to port your number. This should work in both directions, for example porting a number back from Virgin Media to BT or another phoneline provider should be no problem as long as the number matches the BT telephone exchange's area code. People can get very attached to their email addresses, but is it worth sticking with a poor-quality service just to keep an email address?

Ask yourself this: The answer is probably no.

Switching broadband is easier than ever

Some broadband suppliers will allow you to continue to access your old email account via the web. AOL offers this for free, and BT will do this for a monthly charge. However, many suppliers don't do this, and you will need to get a new email address. Changing your email address and informing everyone about it can be an annoying hassle to start with, but is worth it in the long run. In fact, you can start to do that before you even start moving to a new broadband supplier! It's worth signing up for an email address that's independent from your broadband supplier, especially as it means your email address is always future-proofed.

If you have to switch to a new broadband provider later on, then you don't have to change your email address again. Gmail is a free email provider from Google that gives you spam protection and a huge amount of storage space. You can access it on the web at the Gmail website, or you can set up an email client on your computer such as Outlook or Thunderbird and download your email that way. Some broadband suppliers will allow you to set up your email address to forward emails on to another address. This means you can keep an eye out for any services you're signed up for with the old email address and change them, and catch any personal contacts you may have missed with the initial switch.

If your current broadband supplier doesn't offer that, you still have plenty of time to inform everyone you know about your new email address before you switch to a new broadband supplier. Then call us!

Broadband switching FAQ

Our team is happy to help you get signed up with a new provider over the phone on Alternatively you can use this form to book a call back from us at a time that's convenient for you. So you've decided that you want to switch but you're not sure what's involved.

Switching to a new broadband provider is normally pretty simple, especially since the new Ofcom regulations simplified the process from the 20th of June Exactly which switching process you'll use depends on what kind of broadband you currently have. This section talks you through more of the details of the process for different types of broadband.


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  6. These changes have ultimately made it easier for you to switch, but you may still have some questions. Read on to see our answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about switching broadband providers. If you've been with your current provider for a while, you might not know what's out there, and you could be overpaying for slower service. In recent years, fibre-optic broadband coverage has significantly expanded, so if it wasn't previously available in your area, it may be now.

    Many providers increase monthly prices once you're out of contract, too, so you might be overpaying for slower speeds than you could be getting with another provider.

    If I order BT Broadband, do I need to give you a MAC code?

    Check out our broadband packages page to see if you can switch broadband today to a better deal. Yes, but you may be slapped with some charges. Some providers charge an exit fee and enforce a minimum term during which this applies, which can make switching broadband while on contract a more expensive affair and potentially offset any cost savings. If there is a charge to pay, you'll be notified of this once the switching process is in motion, at which time you're free to cancel the switch if want to.

    Common concerns and worries about switching

    There are some instances when you may be able to avoid paying any cancellation fees if you end your contract early. If your provider has raised your monthly bill by more than the line of inflation, you can cancel your service without any penalties if you do so within 30 days of being notified about the change.

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    Another way you might be able to get out of paying cancellation fees is if your provider is in breach of contract — for example, if your actual speeds are significantly slower than promised. This one can be tricky to prove, however. The easier the switch, the shorter it should take. The installation itself should only take from 30 minutes to a few hours, depending upon what needs to be done. If not, you do have another option: Although free webmail services —like Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail — have grown in popularity, a lot of people still use e-mail addresses from their ISPs.

    Whether or not you can keep your e-mail address depends entirely on your provider. Generally speaking, most providers leave e-mail accounts alone, but you should check with your current provider when you switch. Some providers delete e-mail accounts once customers leave, and some will let you keep it — maybe for a fee. To avoid having to change your e-mail address every time you change provider, register for an e-mail service that's not linked to your broadband supplier. Pick from Gmail, Yahoo or Outlook, all of which are free. This will make switching broadband providers much easier in the future.

    Enter your postcode into our postcode checker to see which packages are available in your area.



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