Want to change ISP? It is not as difficult as you might think. We explain the process from beginning to end
Switch broadband to a new provider and you could save cash. But deciding to move your contract to a company offering a cheap package is just the start. Next, you’ll have to deal with the practicalities. The key to a seamless change is to know what the process involves.
Obligations to your provider
Before attempting to change ISP, it’s important to check that you’re not still contracted to your current one. Even if you’ve been with your current ISP for 18 months or more, don’t necessarily assume you’re no longer bound by a contract.
For example, BT recently offered its existing Infinity customers the chance to double their broadband speed for no additional monthly cost, but only if they agreed to a new 12- or 18-month contract. It’s usually possible to break an existing contract, but you’ll almost certainly have to pay to see out the remainder of the agreed term.
Most ISPs also provide a broadband modem/router as part of their service. Some recover the costs of this over the course of the contract (much like a mobile phone contract that offers a ‘free’ handset), while others just lease the equipment to the customer.
That means there’s a possibility that any equipment provided by your current ISP will need to be returned when you switch to a new provider, but you should be told if this is necessary when the time comes. If you no longer have the equipment you were originally given, be prepared to pay for it, or at least make a grovelling telephone call to the ISP.
Switch from ADSL to cable
If you’re changing the type of broadband provider, as well as the provider, the process is simpler than switching between two ADSL ISPs (which we deal with later). In the majority of cases, this means switching between ADSL broadband and a cable service provided by Virgin Media.
Virgin’s cable network is separate from the wired phone infrastructure, the latter being owned and maintained by BT Openreach and leased to phone and ADSL providers), so it doesn’t involve a ‘switch’; a new customer places an order for a service.
According to Virgin Media, there’s a five to 10 working-day turnaround for installations, but next-day installations are not unknown if the circumstances are favourable (and living in a property that’s already wired for cable will help).
Once the cable broadband service is installed and running to your satisfaction, you just need to cancel the (now-redundant) ADSL service, with the above contract caveats. If you live in an area not covered by the Virgin Media network, there is no way to switch to cable.
Unlike ADSL broadband, cable broadband doesn’t rely upon an active phone line rental, but Virgin Media can also supply its own phone service. If this is installed in addition to an existing line rental (which it will be for anyone switching from ADSL), the Virgin Media engineer will fit a new master socket and plug the phone into it.
The existing phone line rental can be cancelled, not forgetting that this too may be bound by a contract.
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