Switching Broadband Suppliers

Step by Step

Switching broadband suppliers is pretty much common sense, though different rules apply if you are changing to or from suppliers like Virgin Media that don’t use the Openreach network, or if you’re moving home and want to keep the same telephone number. For most people, who will be moving from one Openreach supplier to another, it’s just a case of making a decision, placing an order and then waiting for your new router to arrive and your services to transfer.

As a general rule, transferring from one supplier to another will take somewhere between 10-16 days, depending on your individual circumstances and what if any work an engineer needs to do. In the vast majority of cases you won’t be offline during that period except for a few hours on the day the transfer takes place.

The step by step guide below explains what you’ll need to do or consider. Click on each title to open the explanations in full.

It sounds obvious but decide in advance, if you can, what type of broadband package you want – fibre or adsl, broadband and calls, broadband and TV, and so on. If you want to improve your broadband speeds in the course of transferring, you should consider upgrading to a better (fibre) package if it is available. Before you get your hopes too high though, use the availability checker links below to see what services are available in your area.

Once you’ve reached the expiry date of your contract minimum term, your supplier cannot stop you transferring to another supplier. Before that time though, they may block a transfer until or unless you pay an early termination fee, except under certain circumstances. The best way to check your expiry date will be to either look for documents you got when you signed up, or simply call your provider and ask them.

Unless you want to leave your existing broadband supplier for reasons other than cost, when you call to check your contract expiry date, ask them what deal they wil give you to renew your contract. Now you know what any new supplier needs to beat.

If you currently have a bundled TV/Broadband or Mobile/Broadband deal, be aware that if you cancel the broadband service, the costs of any bundled components are likely to increase after transferring, so check what they will be and, if appropriate, what it will cost to obtain similar products elsewhere.

Read the terms and conditions carefully as we have heard many people, not only in the broadband sector but elsewhere, saying that voucher discounts are not automatic and claiming the refunds is both time consuming and relies on you remembering to do it at regular intervals.

This is where it gets easy for most people! For most people, transferring broadband suppliers means  “sign up with the new broadband supplier of your choice”. If you are moving between two Openreach suppliers, your new provider will advise your current supplier that your line is to be transferred to them. As part of that process, your old supplier is effectively told to end your contract on the transfer date.

Our own feeling is that it helps for customers to send a simple email to their old supplier, saying that they are transferring services to Company X and that any transfer request received from them should be accepted. This removes the temptation for a company to reject a transfer request on the grounds that you didn’t know about it. It shouldn’t happen, but it does. You can find a copy of our suggested email here. Feel free to copy and use it as you like. What is important is that you do NOT tell your old supplier to cancel your contract, as they may take you at your word and place a ‘cease order’ on your line, which will then prevent it being transferred.

The process of moving between different networks, such as to or from Virgin, is a little different. In this case, whether you are leaving or joining them, you need to tell your old supplier that you want to cancel your contract. You’ll probably need to call and tell them this and it will never hurt to also do the same in writing. You will be required to serve a notice period, according to your contract, and your old supplier will give you a date when your services are due to expire. Give this date to your new supplier and ask them to get your new services up and running the same or previous day, to avoid being without service.

Check what’s available

For an independent check, you can use Openreach’s and Ofcom’s availability checkers to see what broadband services are available at your home. Click either of the buttons below to open the availability checker in a new tab.

Openreach Availability
Ofcom Availability
Openreach Availability
Ofcom Availability

Other considerations

If you’re moving home and the new property is served by the same telephone exchange, you may be able to retain your old phone number. However, exchanges have their own fixed number ranges, and numbers can’t usually be moved between them. In extreme cases you could move from one side of a street to the other and find you can’t retain your old number. If you’re moving address and switching broadband suppliers at the same time, you should ask your new provider if the number can be retained.

Ofcom say that if you are switching suppliers but staying at the same residence, your old provider must allow the number to be transferred to your new service. However, you need to take care during the order process and be sure you don’t miss checking the option to retain your old number. If you don’t, you may be given a new number.

Moving from Sky to another provider, or from Virgin Media to another provider could mean you cannot keep your old number – the best advice is to ask your new supplier when you place your order.