Wi-Fi: how to change your broadband provider and get the best deal

With more of us working from home and online activity becoming increasingly regular, it’s the perfect time to upgrade your Wi Fi. Here's how to choose the best broadband for your needs

How to change your broadband provider and get the best deal
Published: December 9, 2021 at 11:12 am

The events of the last year have shown us that our need for good internet connection and speed is more important than ever. Here’s how to find the best deal and the right package for you…

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How to change your broandband provider

Will I lose internet while I’m upgrading and will an engineer need to visit?

If it’s simply a swap to a better hub and you are keeping the same phone line then you’ll only be offline for as long as it takes to set the new hub up. If you are changing providers or getting a different type of broadband then you may be off-grid for a few hours or days.

Unless you require a new line or a fibre optic installation, there’s no need for an engineer to visit. You’ll get the new hub in the post so you’ll just need to plug it in and off you go. Remember to update the wi-fi password on your devices to the new one!

Do I have to contact my old provider to cancel before I sign up to someone new?

In most cases no, but it depends on who you are moving from and to. For instance, every major provider except Virgin is on the BT Openreach network so, if switching between them, then it’s the new supplier’s job to notify your existing one and cancel the contract. If you are moving to or from Virgin Media, which runs its own network, you should contact your provider to cancel. They will give you a termination date, which you can co-ordinate with your new start date to avoid being offline for too long.

Can I get broadband without having a landline?

Most providers require you to have a phone line as the broadband needs this to deliver its service so factor in line rental as part of your budget. You can get broadband-only deals from BT and Virgin Media but these tend to be more pricey.

How to get the best broadband deal for you

Whether you’re looking to upgrade to a better price or a faster speed, or perhaps you’re new to home internet, it’s often your location that will dictate what’s on offer, as plans and prices are dependent on where you live. Head online to broadbandchoices.co.uk to see what networks are available in your area.

Many people want the fastest speed available in terms of upload and download – measured in megabits per second (Mb or Mbps). This is vital if there are several people in your home who use the internet regularly on different devices at the same time. For multiple uses, it’s best to have between 30Mb and 50Mb. If it’s just for you and you only use the internet for browsing the web then you may be able to settle for less, between 1Mb and 10Mb.

The choice between a cable and fibre connection comes down to what you want from your broadband. Cable literally uses a cable to transmit data and can supply the internet and TV at the same time. Fibre uses fibre optic cables on a dedicated line so it gives a more consistent speed but tends to be more expensive and isn’t available from all providers.

Top tip

Compare providers at uswitch.com. You can take a look at broadband and TV bundles from all the leading providers including BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin Media, Plusnet, Vodafone, EE and Direct Save Telecom to find your perfect set-up. It also gives you a decent bit of background info so you can see at a glance which brands offer what, and who comes out on top for customer service.

Consider an internet, TV and phone bundle, as many providers offer discounts and incentives to sign up to all three. You can choose to have them all separate if you prefer and this is best if you don’t want to pay for an additional service you don’t want or need.

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Things to check before you sign up include the length of contract, any price hikes or extra charges within that time, the minimum guaranteed speed, whether it’s unlimited broadband use or if there are monthly usage limits.

Useful contacts

•  Find the cheapest broadband deals at moneysavingexpert.com, moneysupermarket.com or gocompare.com.

•  There’s also plenty of good advice on choosing the best broadband, mobile and landline providers at ofcom.org.uk.

•  You can instantly see what your current upload and download speeds are at bt.com, virginmedia.com or uswitch.com.

•  Go direct for further information on current deals at bt.com, sky.com, virginmedia.com, plus.net, talktalk.co.uk, ee.co.uk and vodafone.co.uk.

Authors

Hayley Gilbert is an award-winning interiors journalist with 25 years' experience writing about everything from blissful bathrooms to the coolest kitchens. Publications she has written for include Good Homes, Country Homes and Interiors, House Beautiful and The English Home.

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