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How long does it take to switch broadband provider? Tips before switching

Thinking about ditching your current ISP? Here’s a few pointers about what to expect when you switch broadband.

How long does it take to switch broadband provider?

Everyone has spent a whole lot more time at home in recent times, and while the life is slowly moving towards a new kind of normal, many UK households are still finding their home broadband is being put under unprecedented levels of demand. And if you’re finding that your home broadband isn’t up to the task, then it might be time to think about moving to a new ISP (internet service provider).

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As you would probably imagine, broadband providers don’t exactly make it easy for you to leave them. We polled over 500 of our readers in an official RadioTimes.com survey, and learned that only 13% of participants are planning to switch service within the next year. And little surprise, since ISPs don’t want you to desert them – and they don’t make it easy for you to do so mid-contract.

If you are thinking about switching services, you should expect a hefty cancellation fee if you’re in the middle of your current contract. But if you’re coming to the end of your contract, then it’s definitely worth looking at the prices of similar services from other ISPs. We know that you’re not likely to want to spend more: in the same survey, we found just 22% of participants are willing to pay more. Also, just 28% of those polled have switched provider in the last couple of years.

But with service prices constantly fluctuating, it’s far from impossible you’ll another provider out there that offers a superior service, and one that’s cheaper, too.

In this article, we’ll talk you through how long it takes to switch broadband provider, what you’ll need to do, and what to expect if you want to leave your contract earlier. Don’t miss our pick of the best broadband deals this month for all the latest prices and packages.

How long does it take to switch broadband provider?

How long does it take to switch broadband provider?

It will vary depending on the providers and the nature of your switch, but in general, switching between broadband providers takes about two weeks. You might find it takes a little longer if there’s some installation work that requires a visit from an engineer – this is likely to be the case if you’re switching internet types, for instance, upgrading from FTTC to FTTP fibre broadband.

If this is the case, you might currently find it takes a little longer for an engineer to visit. This is because ongoing Covid-related restrictions in the UK mean some installations are being prioritised over others, such as those for vulnerable customers or do not have pre-existing broadband.

Luckily, these days switchovers between ISPs are relatively smooth. If you’re concerned about being unable to work without home internet, the good news is that you’re unlikely to be without a functioning internet connection for more than a few minutes.

How to switch broadband provider

  1. Check what costs you’ll incur, if any. If you’re at the end of your contract with your current ISP, then you should be able to switch providers at no cost. But if you’re still mid-contract, then you’ll likely incur a cancellation fee.
  2. If you’ve decided to switch, then find the best possible replacement provider. To compare packages and prices from all the major ISPs, head to our best broadband deals article.
  3. Sign-up with the new provider and they will talk you through the next steps. If you’re switching from one Openreach provider to another (this includes BT, Sky and TalkTalk), then you won’t even need to alert your current ISP: that’s all done for you.
  4. If this isn’t the case, make sure you contact your existing broadband provider to let them know you’re moving elsewhere. Be nice: break-ups can be tough.

Advice before switching broadband providers

  • Is the time right for you to switch to a new ISP? Think very carefully if you wish to do this mid-contract since you’ll invariably have to pay a cancellation fee. These can be very hefty and are usually applied on a per-remaining-month of contract basis – so the earlier you wish to leave, the more you’ll incur. Being frank, unless you’ve found an excellent broadband package, it rarely pays cost-wise to move to a new provider prematurely.
  • Is your current service too slow? You might need to seek out a package with a better average Mbps (megabit per second) connection speed. Make sure you know which speed is right for you and your household’s needs – read our what broadband speed do I need explainer for a full low-down.
  • If you don’t think you’re getting the connection speeds your current provider advertised, you may have grounds to leave your contract without paying an exit fee. Several providers have signed up to Ofcom’s voluntary code of practice which lays out clear rules around keeping promised on advertised speeds. In any case, best be prepared for a bit of red tape: you’ll have to go through a formal grievance process, which will be laid out on your provider’s website.
  • Have you checked the latest prices? Head to our pick this month’s best broadband deals, where you’ll find package prices from all the major UK ISPs collated and compared.
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