How to switch to a new broadband & phone provider

A lot of people fear switching their home broadband & phone supplier but really shouldn’t. Ofcom rules introduced in 2015 make it a simple process that you really have very little involvement in – most of the time everything is handled by your new provider.

The problem of not switching is that you’re probably missing out on much better broadband at a much better price.  A significant proportion of the country is covered by fibre or cable broadband, and there are some great deals out there.

There are two ways to switch broadband & phone provider in the UK:

1. Gaining Provider Led Process.  As the name suggests, this is all handled by the provider that you are moving to.  They will contact your old supplier, cancel the service and manage the transition to your new service.  There shouldn’t, if all goes well, be any downtime.

When you initiate a service switch with this approach you are still able to bail part way through the process.  This is because you will be notified of any charges levied against you by the provider you are leaving.  If you accept these charges you continue with the switch, if you don’t you can cancel and stay as you are.

During the process you should receive letters from both the new provider and the old provider.

This is a great approach and really makes switching simple.  The problem is that it is restricted to broadband that is resold from Openreach, the wholesaler.  This covers most main broadband names (such as BT, Sky, Plusnet & John Lewis) except notably Virgin Media (who offer a different type of broadband) and newer FTTP services such as Hyperoptic.

2. Cease and re-provide process.  This, essentially, is done by you.  It’s needed if you are moving to or from a service such as Virgin Media.  In this instance you bear the responsibility of contacting both providers (the one you are leaving and the one that you are going to) in order to cancel one yourself and start the other one.  In order to avoid downtime it’s advisable to factor in some overlap of the two providers.

What you should consider before switching

There are some key things to think about:

  1. Are you in a contract?  If you are still under contract then you may be charged to buy yourself out of this.  If you are reading this article because you have not switched in sometime, then this is unlikely to be the case, but you should check.
  2. Who owns the router?  This varies from provider to provider.  Sometimes you are just renting the router from the provider and they may expect you to send it back.  Most of the time however there will be nothing you need to do.  This will be detailed in the letter from the provider you’re leaving.
  3. Do you pay an exit fee?  If you are out of contract, this is unlikely.  However, this will vary provider to provider.  If you are using Gaining Provider Led Process then this will be handled automatically and you’ll be notified.  If you do not wish to pay it you can cancel the transfer and stick as you are.
  4. Can you keep your phone number?  Yes, you should be able to especially if you are just moving between Openreach resellers.  Again, this is all handled by the gaining provider.