Many people are daunted at the thought of switching broadband provider. However, it isn’t particularly complicated to do, and it could save you money and provide you with a better package that meets all your needs. These days, there is a wider choice of providers and services; it’s worth shopping around to see what deals are available. So, whether the EE Bright Box has caught your eye or Three’s mobile broadband solution sounds like the ticket, here’s what you should do when thinking of switching.
Before you start
Before you take out a new contract, you should look at your internet usage to determine what type of service would give you the best value while meeting all your requirements.
Different types of broadband offer different connection speeds. Standard broadband is usually defined as connections of less than 30 Mbit/second. Superfast connections offer speeds of between 30 and 300 Mbit/second. The speed of your broadband affects how quickly you can download data and how smoothly videos will stream.
There are currently four different types of broadband available in the UK:
- This is the most common type of broadband and is available to over 99 percent of the UK population. It works on the same line as your landline telephone service, but operates separately so the two services do not disrupt each other. It offers Standard connection speeds.
- Fibre Optic. This offers the fastest connection speeds of any type of broadband, and is ideal if you stream a lot of video or play games online. However, it tends to be more expensive, and is not available everywhere in the UK.
- This uses the same cables as cable television, and often comes as part of a package. The speed tends to be similar to ADSL. It is often chosen by people who live in areas where the landline phone wiring is not particularly good.
- There are two speeds of mobile broadband available; 3G and 4G. 4G is faster but is not available everywhere yet. Mobile broadband is increasingly used by home customers, and works via a wireless box or plugging a USB dongle into your computer. You don’t need any wires or cables leading into your home for this option. The other main advantage of mobile broadband is that if you don’t want to take out a long-term contract you can access it via pay-as-you-go or short-term one-month rolling contracts.
Please be aware that not all types of broadband are available everywhere in the UK. It’s important to find out what provision there is in your area before assessing your needs. In addition, broadband speeds are not the same in all areas, as they can be affected by various environmental factors. It’s worth checking what speed you can expect before taking out a new contract. Most providers offer speed checkers on their websites; alternatively, Ofcom has compiled a map showing average broadband speeds across the UK from all the main providers.
What to be aware of
Before you make a decision to switch providers, you should check whether there are any hidden costs involved in your contract. Many ADSL contracts also involve taking out landline rental, so you may have to switch your landline at the same time as your broadband. It’s also worth finding out if there is a connection charge, and what the total monthly cost of your contract will be with everything included.
While most providers no longer limit the amount of data you can download, some will slow down your service at certain times of day if they feel you are exceeding what they consider to be “fair usage”. It’s important to establish whether “unlimited” really means what it says.
Many providers offer bundles, where you can purchase broadband, landline phone and television on one contract. This can often save you money, but it’s worth checking in case it will work out more expensive.
How to switch
As there are different types of broadband available, how you switch will depend on the provider and service you are switching from and to. Your new provider will be able to give you information on what you need to do. Unless you choose mobile broadband, you will have to follow one of two switching procedures:
- Gaining Provider Led
If you are told to follow this procedure, all you will have to do is inform your new provider that you want to switch to them. They will then contact your old provider, end your old contract and arrange the transfer for you. Your old and new providers will then contact you by post, informing you of the switch. Your old provider needs to let you know which services will be affected, and both providers should give you an estimate of the date when the switch will happen.
- Cease and Re-provide
This applies if you are switching to or from a cable network. You will need to contact both your current provider to end your contract and your new provider to take out a new contract. Your contract with your new provider will tell you when your new service will start. Your old provider will notify you that your contract is ending.
Many providers charge a fee if you leave your contract before the minimum term. It is worth checking with your current provider whether you are still within the minimum term, and how much you will have to pay.
If you change your mind about switching, you have fourteen days from taking out your new contract to cancel the switch. This must be done by contacting your new provider.