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How to change broadband provider

If your current provider’s not doing it for you, then switch to one who will

Swapping your slow, shonky broadband provider for something faster, friendlier and more reliable is far less complicated than you’d imagine – and doing so will make your digital life easier and can even save you money. Who’s in?

If you’re not happy with your current broadband provider, there’s no reason you can’t switch to someone else who offers a better deal (or better service). That said, the idea of changing your internet provider can be daunting, but we’ll walk you through the general process which is very straightforward.

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Are you switching for the right reasons?

While switching between broadband providers is now easier than ever, it’s not a zero-effort process and can lead to significant disruption if you run into any hiccups – which means it’s worth highlighting some key reasons why it’s a good idea to change to a new ISP (Internet Service Provider):

  • Speed: If you’re still on a copper wired connection such as ADSL for fibre-to-the-cabinet, then a new provider using technologies such as fibre-to-the-home or 5G represent a huge leap in performance.
  • Cost: While broadband providers are more competitive than ever, you can save a substantial amount of money with special offers or new pricing by competitors.
  • Unreliable: Experiencing frequent service interruptions and poor speeds that aren’t what you were promised? If you’re not getting what you paid for it, maybe it’s time for a switch.
  • Poor customer service: When things go wrong, how are you treated? How quickly is the problem resolved? Sometimes even when there are technical difficulties, a provider with great customer support is worth its weight in gold. If your ISP isn’t as helpful as it should be, it’s time to move on.

At this point, it’s worth pointing out that if your issues with your current ISP are to do with speed or cost, you may want to consider sticking with the same provider, but simply switching to a different package. This is the easiest move of all, and probably won’t cause any penalties or delays. However, if you’re set on going with someone new, let’s look at the most sensible steps to follow.

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Read your current contract carefully

Before you even look at another provider, it’s time to whip out your current contract and take a few minutes to carefully read it, including all the fine print.

Important things to look out for include:

Close to the end of your contract term? You should definitely consider riding it out until the renewal period kicks in. If you’re changing providers mainly to save money, rather than due to service issues, take any termination fees into account to make sure you’ll actually save money when switching over.

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Research your new provider

If you haven’t found a new provider already, then you’ll need to do some research to find one that fits your needs better than your current provider. You can simply look at our best broadband award winners , our best broadband review roundup , or our best broadband deals , but if you want to do the legwork yourself, these are some key factors to consider:

  • Hidden costs: Apart from the monthly fee, there may be certain once-off upfront costs, such as installation or connection fees.
  • Contract duration: While a month-to-month contract might be more expensive compared to signing a long-term contract, it gives you the freedom to change providers on short notice or move to a new home or location without paying penalties.
  • Speed: Is the service fast enough? Have a look at our guide on broadband speeds to make sure you’re not under- or overspending for inadequate performance.
  • Customer service reputation: What are people saying on independent review sites about the prospective provider’s customer service? There’s nothing worse than an ISP that leaves you in the lurch when your internet goes down at a critical time.
  • Perks and extras: Sometimes an ISP will offer free gifts or services to sweeten the deal. For example, you may get a free subscription to a streaming service, or a free router. Bear in mind that these perks might be tied to certain conditions, so you should read your contract’s fine print carefully. (For example, you might need to return the router to your ISP if you leave at the end of your contract.)
  • Swapping fibre network providers?: If so, it’s worth checking for prospective ISPs that are on the same physical fibre network as you are currently, since switching fibre providers is simpler in that case.

Once you’ve chosen your new provider, it’s time to initiate the switch.

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Getting the ISP switch rolling

There are broadly two paths here, depending on whether your new broadband provider uses the same physical network as your current one.

For example, if both of the providers are on the OpenReach network, all you have to do is get in touch with your new provider and they will handle everything. This is thanks to Ofcom’s “ One Touch Switch ” system, which aims to simplify changing providers.

However, as of early 2024, the One Touch Switch system isn’t fully integrated , so if you’re switching between networks like OpenReach and Virgin Media fibre, you still need to contact both parties to arrange the change.

Getting the timing right

One of the trickiest aspects of changing providers is ensuring that there’s a smooth transition from one to the other. You don’t want to pay for a double period, and you don’t want a gap where you have no internet service.

So double check that your service and start dates line up perfectly. This isn’t an issue for switchovers where you’re with the same network provider in both cases. However, if you’re switching between fibre networks, switching from copper to fibre or switching to wireless, there may be delays as you wait for installation.

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Dealing with customer retention

Inevitably, if you’re cancelling your contract with a provider they will try their best to keep you as a customer. The same tactic is often employed by mobile phone companies when you try to change to a rival network. You might even be offered a better deal or some other incentive to stay. If your reason for leaving has to do with performance problems, poor customer service and other similar factors, just stick to your guns and don’t let yourself be persuaded (as you’ll only live to regret it).

Some other things to consider once you’ve upgraded

Assuming it all went well and you are now connected and ready to go with your new provider, there are still some things left to do.

If you’ve had a large speed upgrade, perhaps with fibre in the hundreds of megabits per second, there’s a good chance your router needs an upgrade. Older routers may only have Ethernet ports that support 100Mbits/sec and older Wi-Fi standards may also limit how fast your devices can go, even if your internet connection is much faster. Need some help with this? Have a look at our reviews of the best wireless routers , best mesh routers and best powerline adapters .

If you’ve switched over to new network equipment to go with your new broadband connection, you should also take the opportunity to make sure you have a secure Wi-Fi and router password. Don’t settle for the default passwords that come with the devices.

With that out of the way, you can now enjoy your new service and all the advantages it brings.

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