When was the last time you checked how much you’re paying for your broadband? If you’ve been drifting along with the same provider out of contract, just because it’s felt like the easy option, there’s a high chance you’re paying a lot more than you should.
The broadband market is set up to offer the best deals to new customers. With annual and mid-contract price hikes to deal with, it’s easy to start over-paying for a service without realising there are better value options.
Customers signing up to a new contract don’t just enjoy special introductory rates and lower monthly costs. Switching your broadband package can give you access to faster speeds, updated routers and special perks, like gift cards.
Making the switch is easy. However, depending on who you’re moving from, and to, there are a few steps to bear in mind to make sure the process runs smoothly.
In this guide, we’ll be pointing out ways you can easily switch to a broadband provider on the Openreach network. We’ll check out ways you can minimise your internet downtime, how you can change providers early without paying a fortune, and how the switching process works.
What is Openreach?
Openreach is the company that maintains the former British Telecom Network used for the majority of broadband and phone services. If a repair or installation is required, it’s Openreach who will send an engineer, not your provider.
More than 650 service providers using the Openreach network. That’s the majority of the UK’s broadband providers. This includes Sky, TalkTalk and BT. The exception to this is Virgin Media - it uses its own, separate cable network.
It’s difficult to list all the UK broadband providers who piggyback off the Openreach network – there are over 650 of them! These include:
It might be easier to mention some of the bigger names who aren’t on the Openreach network:
Switching to Openreach: The key points
How do I know when my current broadband contract ends?
Before you make any decisions on a new service, it’s a good idea to check where you stand with your contract.
We have a few dedicated guides to helping you find your contract end date:
- Find your TalkTalk contract end date
- Find your EE contract end date
- Find your Sky contract end date
- Find your Virgin Media contact end date
- Find your BT contract end date
If your provider isn’t listed here, you should be able to get a quick answer by signing in to your account, or calling your provider’s customer service team. At this stage, you don’t have to tell your provider you’re interested in leaving.
Once you know the date your minimum term ends, make a note of this in your calendar. And, even better, set yourself a reminder a month or so before this to think about switching.
You'll find many dedicated customer service pages listed on our Best Broadband Providers page.
Switching broadband providers while you’re still under contract
Leaving a broadband contract early can end up being expensive. When you sign up to any broadband deal, you agree to a minimum term, even if this is just one month. In your contract, you'll be able to find the terms for how much it will cost you to break this agreement early. You can also often find this on your provider’s website.
Working out your early termination charge normally means calculating the price of your package, for however many months you have left on your contract. But each provider will have its unique take on this, and things like bundled deals sometimes make things a bit trickier to work out.
Here are a few places you can find more information on some of the most popular providers:
- How to cancel BT broadband
- How to cancel Virgin Media
- How to cancel Sky Broadband
- How to cancel TalkTalk
There are a few unique situations where you might be able to get out of paying this early cancellation fee:
Cancelling your broadband provider early if your broadband is slow
If your broadband provider is signed up to the Ofcom Broadband Speed Code of Practice, you could get out of your contract without being penalised. This will come into force if your broadband connection is slower than it should be, your provider acknowledges there’s a problem, but it can’t be fixed within 30 days. You can’t simply leave because you’re unhappy with the speeds, you must give your provider the change to improve things.
The following providers are signed up to this scheme:
See also: 'Making broadband complaints'
Cancelling a broadband contract early if the bill payer has died
If the bill payer has passed away, you’ll be able to close the account. Each provider has difference guidance on how it deals with this. Be prepared to prove the change of circumstances with a death certificate. We have further information about this in our guide – How to cancel broadband if you're bereaved or terminally ill.
Making use of a broadband switching credit
Keep an eye out for switching credit promotions when you’re moving between providers. Some will offer to pay your exit fees early if you switch. For example:
- Sky will credit you up to £100 to cover the bill (this rises to £200 if you’re switching to Sky TV & Broadband). You’ll have to be prepared to pay the fees you owe, then send proof of payment within 90 days of your Sky broadband being activated.
- EE will give you a £50 credit if you’re charged for ending your broadband contract early.
Changing broadband providers when you’re out of contract
If you’ve got to the end of your contract term, or passed that date, you’re free to switch without paying any fees.
ake some time to think about how you’ve been using your internet and whether your circumstances have changed since you last signed up. This is an excellent opportunity to check whether you can get a better deal using our comparison table.
You’ll be able to compare broadband deals available in your area using this postcode checker:
Broadband Genie deals checker
Don’t forget to make use of the filters, so you can sort by speed, price, set-up fee or contract length. If there are any current promotions available such as gift cards for new customers, or introductory prices, these will be listed here, too.
How much notice period do I have to give when leaving my broadband provider?
Even if you’re out of contract, you’ll still have to give your broadband provider notice you intend to leave. The standard request for notice from most providers is 30 days. It’s a good idea to start a contract with your new provider as close to this end date as you can, so you’re not left without internet.
If you’re moving from one Openreach provider to another, this process is simple.
If you’re moving from Virgin Media, Gigaclear, Hyperoptic or Three Home Broadband to any Openreach provider, you could technically have both services running at the same time as they run on different networks. Of course, you’d also be paying two bills, so you’d want to keep this crossover time down to a minimum.
Keeping fast broadband speeds when moving to an Openreach provider?
If you’re currently a Virgin Media, Hyperoptic or Gigaclear customer, and it’s important for you to keep your ultrafast broadband speeds, you need to check carefully whether you can sign up to a full fibre deal with a new provider.
Around 34% of the UK currently have access to the Openreach full fibre network, with an additional 6% hooked up to Openreach’s 'G.fast' network (for speeds up to 330Mb)
What’s does 'full fibre' mean?
Full Fibre broadband is also known as ‘Fibre To The Premises’, ‘Fibre To The Home’. This is often shortened to FTTP or FTTH. They’re all the same thing!
Instead of copper telephone wire making up the final part of the journey from that green cabinet on the street, fibre optic cables are installed right up to your home.
It’s amazing the difference in speed this small data journey can have. With full-fibre broadband you can expect to receive speeds of 1Gb+.
The downside is full-fibre is only available to a small percentage of homes in the UK, and it’s taking a good while to get everyone up to speed.
The fastest download speed offered from most Openreach providers without being hooked up to full fibre is around 67Mb. Even if you’re part of a larger household with all streaming devices at the same time, you shouldn’t really struggle.
If you want a bit more advice on the speeds you should be aiming for, based on the number of people in your home, you can get more help with our guide - ‘what broadband speed do you need? Do you need fast broadband?
Who’s responsible for starting my broadband switch?
If you’re moving from Openreach to Openreach (One Stop Switching Process)
If you’re moving from one broadband service that runs on the Openreach network to another provider, you won’t need to contact your current provider at all. Your new provider will make all the arrangements for you.
Once this is in place, both your new provider and old provider will send you a letter confirming your switch, any early termination charges you’ll have to pay and an estimate of when the switch will happen.
If you’re switching between networks (i.e Virgin Media to any Openreach provider)
Back in April 2023, Ofcom attempted to make the switching process simpler for all by pushing out a new ruling called ‘One Touch Switch’. This would mean the new broadband provider would be responsible for handling the switch, regardless of whether it was on the same network or not.
Unfortunately, this process didn’t get off to a good start, and the deadline has passed without any obvious changes in guidance.
Our current advice for any customer switching networks (i.e Virgin Media to BT Broadband) is to initiate the switch yourself and contact both providers.
Frequently Asked Questions about moving to an Openreach broadband provider
Do I need to pay set-up fees to start a new broadband contract?
The easiest way to check this is by using our comparison table. This will clearly show you if you have to pay a set-up fee. Providers often waive set-up fees as a special promotion.
Do I have to give my broadband provider notice I’m leaving when I’m out of contract?
You’ll need to check your broadband contract. It’s standard for most providers to ask for at least 30 days notice if you want to switch or close your broadband account.
How long will it take to change broadband provider?
A broadband switchover normally takes around two weeks. However, if you’re changing to a provider on a different network, you could technically have your dates crossed over a little to make sure there’s no service interruption at all. Just bear in mind, you’ll also be paying for both!
What happens if there’s a delay in activating my broadband service?
If the provider you’re signing up to is on Ofcom’s automatic compensation scheme, you’ll be able to get some money back if things go wrong. You shouldn’t even need to ask for it. Compensation includes £29.15 for a missed engineer appointment and £5.83 for each calendar day of delay. Unless you’ve agreed otherwise, this total will come in the form of a credit on your bill.
Can I keep my e-address when I cancel my broadband?
If your broadband service includes an email address, you may find this will be shut down once you leave. Some providers will give you a grace period before this happens, but this varies a lot. As an example, Virgin Media gives you 90 days before your email address is closed down, whilst TalkTalk customers are given a year. BT Broadband customers have the option to keep their emails archived, or subscribe to a standalone email service.
Can I keep my home phone number when switching providers?
If you’re signed up to a broadband deal that includes a landline service, you can normally keep your existing phone number when you switch broadband providers. Make sure to mention this to your new provider when you sign up.
Can I change my mind if I’ve switched broadband provider and not happy?
There’s a minimum 14-day cooling-off period, which begins the day after you register for the service, not activation day. During this time, it’s your legal right to cancel for free, for any reason. Some providers also offer a longer cooling-off period.
Make sure to get in touch as soon as possible if things aren’t working out for you, you’ve changed your mind, and you’d like to cancel. We recommend keeping a record of all communications in case of any problems.
If your broadband was activated within this cooling-off period, you’ll still have to pay for the costs already incurred.
Will I need to arrange an Openreach engineer visit?
You’ll only need to arrange an engineer visit if you need a new line installed and don’t already have a suitable phone line, or if you need a full fibre cable connected.
Switching to a provider on the Openreach network should be an option for most people, as 93.25% of UK premises currently have access to this. However, to have access to ultrafast speeds, you’ll need to be in the 34% who have access to an Openreach FTTP network, or the 6% who have an Openreach G.fast network installed (for potential speeds up to 330Mb).
Switching broadband might be something you feel the need to do quickly, especially if you’ve been plagued by technical problems. But, before you cancel your broadband package, spend some time checking the alternatives available to you. Think hard about whether you’re happy with a potential downgrade in speed. Ask yourself how everyone at home uses the internet and how many people are online at any given time.
|Size of household||Minimum download speed||Prices from|
|1 person||10Mb-30Mb download speed||£18 p/m|
|Up to 3 people||30Mb-50Mb download speed||£23 p/m|
|Up to 5 people||50Mb-100Mb download speed||£24 p/m|
|5+ people||100Mb+ download speed||£26 p/m|
If you’re switching networks, you’ll currently need to initiate the switch yourself. Ofcom announced a new ruling called ‘One Touch Switch’ designed to make switching broadband easier regardless of who you are switching from, or to. However, this currently hasn’t been put into place by all providers. For this reason, we suggest processing with a bit of caution.
Please remember, you’ll need to give your broadband provider notice, even if you’re out of contract.
When you’re moving from a provider such as Virgin Media, Hyperoptic or Gigaclear to one on the Openreach network, you’ll have to think about timings careful. You could technically have both running at the same time if you were worried about losing connection completely. Of course, you’d be paying two bills if you do this, so you’d want to keep this crossover time as short as possible.
Why do we need your address?
We need your address to show you the broadband deals available at your home. This information is gathered in partnership with thinkbroadband.