Switching broadband provider

Computer-keyboardAre you experiencing problems with your current broadband provider, want to upgrade to a faster service, or have found a better deal with someone else?

Maybe you haven’t decided to switch yet, but are looking into your options and want to know how easy it would be to change?

The following guide explains what you need to do if you want to switch your broadband to a new provider.

Exit charges

First, check whether you’ve been with your existing provider long enough to be able to switch cost free.

Some providers require a minimum service period or contract term before you can switch. If you want to change provider earlier than that then you may have to pay early termination charges.

How do I switch?

At the moment there are three different types of process for switching broadband - ‘losing provider led’, ‘gaining provider led’ and ‘cease and re-provide’.

Which one you follow depends on the type of broadband you have, the technologies used by your current and new providers, and whether you’re switching a bundle.

The length of time taken to switch your provider will depend on the services you have and the providers and services you want to switch to.

The first thing you should do is contact the provider you wish to switch to, and explain what you want to do. They should be able to give you details on which process you need to follow.

Regardless of the process you follow, you have a 14 calendar day period from the date you enter a new contract with a new provider in which you have a right to cancel your request to switch without being charged.

Below we set out the details for each of the three processes.

Broadband: losing provider led process

You will follow this process if you’re either:

Switching only your broadband, and;

Switching between providers who both use the Openreach copper or its 'fibre to the cabinet' network.


• In some circumstances, switching from or to a bundle of landline and broadband (see below).

With this process you must first contact your current provider to ask for a Migration Authorisation Code (MAC). This enables you to switch your broadband services.

The MAC must be provided to you within five working days and it's valid for a period of 30 days.

Once you have it, give it to your new provider who will then coordinate the switch. This part of the process usually takes around five working days.

If you decide you no longer want to switch, do not hand over your MAC, and contact your new provider to tell them you have changed your mind.

Broadband: gaining provider led process

If you’re switching your broadband as part of a bundle (with your landline) you may in some circumstances follow a 'gaining provider led' process, in which you only need to contact the provider you wish to switch to.

Under a ‘gaining provider led process’, your new provider will arrange the transfer for you.

You only need to contact the provider you wish to switch to, who will notify your old provider of the intended transfer - you do not need to cancel your contract with your old provider.

If you have changed your mind, you must contact your new provider to cancel your request to switch.

Broadband: cease and re-provide

You’ll most likely use this process if you’re switching services with providers that are delivered over different networks.

For example, if you’re switching to cable broadband on the Virgin network, or Openreach's 'fibre to the premises' network.

Sometimes you may need to stop your current service, and start a new contract with a new provider.This is sometimes called a 'cease and re-provide'.

You will need to contact both your old and new provider who will be able to provide you with more details.

You may decide to coordinate the start of your new service with the end of your old service, or you may wish to have an overlap of your old and new contracts.

If you’re following a cease and re-provide process, you will normally receive notification from your old provider that your contract is ending (and notification of any charges associated with this), and you will be given a new contract from your new provider which will tell you when your contract is due to start.

Switching a bundle

If you’re switching a bundle of landline and broadband services at the same time, the process you follow depends on the providers you use.

If your current and new provider both use the Openreach network (the division of BT which installs and maintains telephone and broadband connections), you will follow either a gaining provider led process for both landline and broadband, or a combination of a gaining provider led process for landline and a losing provider led process for your broadband.

If you’re switching between different networks, for example between a provider using a cable network and one using the Openreach network, then you will follow a cease and re-provide process described above.

Making broadband switching simpler

From late June 2015, for switches of landline and/or broadband services provided over Openreach’s network, new regulations come into effect which will remove the need to contact your losing provider in order to switch your broadband services. You will be able to follow the ‘gaining provider led’ process and so your new provider will be able to coordinate the switch for you. You may still contact your losing provider should you choose to.

More broadband help

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Broadband basics
If you're new to broadband and want to find out more about it, or how to get the most from your existing service, then this guide is for you.

Managing your costs - broadband
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