Why should I upgrade?
Is your internet getting you down with its slow speeds? Do you want to sign up to sport or movie channels? It's time to consider a broadband upgrade.
There are plenty of good reasons why you should upgrade your broadband plan, including performance, price or convenience. When deciding whether it's time to upgrade, ask yourself what you hope to gain by making the change. Most upgraders can be grouped into three main categories.
- You want faster broadband. You're on an old standard broadband package and want to upgrade to fibre. Or maye you're already on fibre and want something even faster.
- You want to add TV, phone or mobile services to your deal. Either you're adding whole new features to your plan, or you've got services from a host of different providers that you're looking to bring under one roof.
- You want to switch providers. When your existing contract ends, it's the perfect time to shop around for something new. This opens you up to getting a faster plan, or perhaps just a more reliable service.
I want to upgrade to faster broadband. What are my options?
The most obvious benefit to upgrading your broadband is that you can get a faster speed. This might mean a move from standard broadband to fibre, or from a basic fibre deal to something much faster.
If you're still stuck on one of the old standard broadband packages, you might find it starting to struggle to keep up with your needs. An upgrade is well overdue. You'll notice a night and day difference between standard broadband and fibre broadband. Downloads will be faster, browsing will be smoother and you won't get any buffering when you're streaming TV and movies. You'll find your whole family will be more able to go online at the same time without it causing any slowdown.
Superfast fibre broadband services are generally split into two groups. There's the basic deals with average speeds of around 36Mb, and faster plans of around 60Mb or so. The 36Mb option is a good starting point. Assuming you're getting close to that speed it can comfortably handle three or four people being on Netflix or YouTube (at HD resolution) at the same time, with others online, too. The faster plan is better for larger or more demanding households, or if you want to watch Netflix in 4K. It also gives you a little bit of extra legroom, since our bandwidth requirements are only going to continue to rise.
Already got fibre? You can, of course, upgrade from a 36Mb plan to a 60Mb one. You just need to check that you can get those faster speeds where you are. Not every property can, particularly in more rural areas.
Upgrade to ultrafast broadband
If you're really thirsting for speed, you have a growing number of options for something a whole lot faster. Ofcom figures from December 2019 show that 57% of UK homes can now get fibre broadband of at least 100Mb and 53% can get ultrafast broadband of at least 300Mb. These speeds remove the remaining limitations you might have on your internet use, including quality of media streaming and the number of people who can go online together. Upload speeds are also faster, which may help if you work from home.
Your main option for this is with Virgin Media. Their plans up to 362Mb are widely available, and go faster still in some areas. Should you not wish to switch to Virgin, or can't get their faster speeds where you live, similarly fast speeds are becoming much more widespread from providers that run on the Openreach network. These use the G.fast tech that requires an upgrade to your local street cabinet, and provide speeds starting at 100Mb. BT, Sky, Vodafone and TalkTalk are among the providers that can offer plans of 100Mb or faster in areas where the technology has been rolled out.
On top of that, some 10% of UK homes can now get full-fibre (also known as fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP), or fibre-to-the-home (FTTH)) broadband. These have speeds pushing up towards 1Gb and give you almost instantaneous downloads and uploads. Vodafone are among the companies offering this, with their Gigafast 900 plan delivering an average speed of 900Mb. The rollout of full-fibre is expected to accelerate in the next few years, especially as one of the government's 2019 election pledges was to make gigabit-capable broadband - which may include 5G as well as full-fibre - available to everyone by 2025.
Use our postcode checker to see what ultrafast broadband deals are available where you live.
What are the other benefits of upgrading?
Speed doesn't have to be your only priority. The other benefits to upgrading your broadband are largely dependent on the reasons you're choosing to upgrade in the first place.
Although upgrading to a faster broadband service is a no-brainer for most people, it isn't the only good reason to do it. There are other benefits to be had, including saving money and switching to a more reliable service. Here are some of the best reasons to upgrade.
Upgrading your broadband is a good way to save money. Oddly enough, you might even find that taking a faster broadband package works out cheaper than what you've already got.
The reason is simple: if you haven't upgraded in a very long time you might be still be on a legacy plan. You'll notice that the price creeps up every year - never by enough to force you to go elsewhere, but it really mounts up over time. It leaves you paying way over the odds for a service that's worse than you could get for less money.
Ofcom has found that as many as 40% of broadband users are out of contract, and that on average they pay £8 to £9 a month more than they would if they signed a new contract with the very same provider. Some will be paying a lot more than that.
If this applies to you, the good news is that you've now got the upper hand when you contact your broadband provider to negotiate a new deal. What you need to do first is to find out what their introductory rate is for new customers, then compare broadband prices to see exactly what you can get elsewhere, and how much it'll cost you. Then, armed with this information, give your provider a call or contact them on Live Chat, and see what they can offer you in response. Feel free to mention what a loyal customer you are, if that helps ease things along, and you can also ask to be put through to the Retentions team. Their job is to prevent customers from leaving, and they'll often have access to even better deals.
Any time you're willing to sign a new contract with your current provider you're in a position to negotiate a cheaper deal, even when you aren't out of contract. This is also true if you're looking to add more services to your package, like pay TV or a mobile plan, you can normally save even more on the bundle compared to buying each item separately from different companies.
Access introductory offers
If you do decide to switch when you upgrade, then all those sweet introductory offers for new customers become available to you. These include heavily discounted broadband for a year or more (and after that expires you should look to upgrade again), and sometimes free stuff like high street gift cards, tech products or cashback. Companies want your business, and will do whatever they need to lure you in.
Get better terms on your deal
Whether you switch or stay with your current provider, upgrading will often also get you better terms on your deal. You might get a new router which is faster and gives you better Wi-Fi coverage throughout your home, for example. You might also get better terms on your deal, with minimum speed guarantees or compensation for network downtime.
Choosing to upgrade your broadband plan by adding TV or mobile brings another big benefit - it's a lot more convenient. Instead of juggling several bills from several different companies, you can get one bill, one payment date, one renewal date, and one tech support team. There are a few providers that offer broadband and mobile bundles, along with some that can offer you pay TV, too.
Is it difficult to upgrade?
The ease with which you can upgrade depends on whether you're planning to stay with the same provider, or if you want to switch.
Upgrading your broadband deal while staying with the same provider is easy. Most will be only too happy to allow you to sign a new contract with them, even when there's time left on your existing deal. So long as they offer the services you want, and that they're available in your area, you will be able to upgrade to a fibre broadband deal, or add things like pay TV, without any problem.
But what If you want to upgrade by moving to a new provider? If you're out of contract, or coming to the end of your contract, then you're free to move on as you please. It's easy to switch, too, as your new provider will take care of most of the process for you. See our guide on how to switch broadband suppliers for more.
The problem comes when you're still in contract. Although you can leave your deal at any time you'll have to pay exit fees to do so, which is likely to be the full price of all your remaining months. By and large, it's worth waiting in these circumstances. The exception is if you're getting performance levels way below what you would regard as acceptable. In this case you may be able to leave without penalty, or at least get a refund. Our consumer rights guide has more on this.
How do I upgrade?
The first steps to upgrading your broadband are to decide why you want to do it, and whether you're happy with your current supplier.
When you're sticking with the same company, it's simple. Just take a look at our provider pages to see what they've got to offer in terms of speed upgrades or extra services like phone, TV or mobile. To help you compare upgrades, use our Speed Test tool to find out exactly what speed internet you're getting right now. You can then see how much faster your broadband could be in future.
If you're up for switching providers then check when your contract expires first. Assuming it has ended, or is ending within the next month, you've got a near endless number of options to choose from. Use our postcode checker to see what's available in your area, and start shopping.