Stick with the same provider or switch to another?
The first thing to decide is whether you want to take the opportunity of moving home to switch to a new provider or if you’re happy to stick with your current provider.
Consider the following questions:
Are you still within your minimum contract term?
If you're still only part way into a 12 or 18 month contract with your broadband provider then it almost certainly makes sense to stick with them and simply move your existing contract to the new address. Ending your contract early usually comes with hefty penalties including paying up to the cost of all the remaining months of broadband and line rental you committed to.
Be certain to confirm with your provider that switching your contract to a new address won't start a new minimum contract term, ie, that you're not signing up for a new 12 or 18 month contract. If that's the case and there are much cheaper options available at your new address then it might make sense to pay off the rest of your existing contract and sign up for a cheap deal. The deciding factor would be if this is cheaper overall than paying for the extra months at the more expensive price.
Are there better broadband options at your new address?
Some cheaper broadband options are only available in areas where that provider has installed their own equipment into the telephone exchange (low cost network areas), others are cheaper when one or more other providers have their equipment installed (high competition areas). This means that the same services might have different prices or that there may be more or fewer options to choose from at your new address.
If you want to get the fastest broadband possible you may find that your new address has access to fibre services that aren't available at your current address. There may also be a wider choice of fibre services when you previously only had one option, or the maximum speed your new line can achieve for fibre might be slower (due to distance from the street cabinet) making Virgin Media or Hyperoptic's ultrafast services more of an upgrade.
Alternatively, if you're currently happy with the broadband speed over your copper phone line and haven't seen a reason to upgrade to fibre, you may find that your broadband speed is slower at your new address if your home is further from the telephone exchange or there's higher levels of congestion. These factors could turn the upgrade to fibre services from a luxury to a necessity.
For all of these reasons, it's very worth using our broadband checker to find out exactly what's available at your new address and for what prices. You may even find that due to special offers or changes to contracts you could get a considerable discount with your current supplier if you commit to a new contract or sign up as a brand new customer at your new address.
Are you moving out of your provider's network area?
If you're currently enjoying your provider's lowest prices but your new address is outside of your provider's low cost network area then you may find that you end up paying a lot more for your broadband. If you chose your provider because it was the cheapest option at your current address, it may not be the cheapest outside of network areas, it may even be significantly more expensive than other providers.
Worse still your broadband may have much poorer features once it moves outside of network areas. Some providers limit download speeds for out of area customers, others apply a restrictive usage allowance to a service that's unlimited within their network area and/or apply harsher traffic management meaning that your connection is artificially slowed down depending on the time of day or the type of Internet use.
Even when there are no additional restrictions applied, 'off network' services tend to be bought at the cheapest wholesale price possible meaning that they're more likely to be over-subscribed causing congestion and slow downs at peak times (evenings and weekends) than other providers on the same exchange. The exception to this is Plusnet who offer their best service at all exchanges but charge less in high competition areas due to passing on savings from the lower wholesale broadband costs.
The easiest way to determine if you're moving out of or into your provider's network area is to use our broadband checker for both your current and new postcodes. If your provider's deals have different prices in the new area then the network area will likely be involved. With Plusnet prices depend on which other providers' network areas cover the postcode.
If you find that you've had a serious reduction in the quality of the broadband service when you move home, especially if you'd have a better experience from the same type of broadband with another provider, there is a chance that you may be able get out of your contract early. This would require the change in service to count as a mid-term contract change under Ofcom regulations for contracts starting after January 23rd 2014. This may depend on whether the contract you agreed to specified what you'd receive if you moved out of network areas. You may also be able to get help from the Ombudsman or Adjudication Services. You can find more information on this in our guide to consumer rights and regulations.
Are you a Virgin Media customer switching out of or into a cable area?
Virgin Media uses an entirely different technology to most broadband suppliers. It comes into your home using steel cables originally laid for cable television services and later upgraded to ultrafast speeds using fibre optic technology as far as their street cabinets.
Virgin Media also operates an alternative telephone line based service known as 'National Broadband' or Virgin.net. This has only been offered in situations when the home wasn't covered by Virgin's main cable-based services.
Because of the fundamental low level differences in how these two broadband services are supplied, they are effectively two separate broadband providers run by the same company. They have different technical support teams and even the email addresses provided are different VirginMedia.com vs Virgin.net.
As such switching out of or into a Virgin Media cable as a Virgin customer can be as radical a change as switching to a completely new provider and so you lose many of the benefits of sticking with a service you're familiar with.
'National' services are no longer offered to new out of area customers using the main Virgin Media website, so this may now be a legacy service only operating for existing customers.
It's unclear whether existing cable customers moving out of cable areas would be offered Virgin.net as an alternative. If it is possible, you'll experience many of the downsides described in the moving out of network areas section above, so this may only desirable if it's the only way to avoid paying large disconnection charges for ending your original contract term early.
When moving from a Virgin.net 'National' service into a cable area you'll likely see a significant improvement in the broadband speeds available and you may have less of a slowdown at peak times. However Virgin Media isn't often the cheapest supplier in an area as they compete primarily on having the highest download speeds, so you may still benefit from shopping around. They are however usually the cheapest if you want a superfast broadband service, as even their cheapest bargain deals are up to 50Mb.
Does your provider even operate at your new address?
Depending on who your current provider is, you may find that they're not available at all at your new address due them only operating within their network areas or where the technology they use is available. If this is the case then you'll have no option but to sign up for a new provider when you move home.
If you're moving to parts of the Hull area then you may find that none of the national broadband providers operate there due to the lack of BT telephone exchanges.
With no option to take your current service with you, you'll be forced to change to a new provider. If you're still within your minimum contract term then you may be forced to buy your way out of your contract or continue paying for the remaining months even though you can’t actually receive the service.
If you're currently planning to move in the next few months but have yet to decide where to move to, now may not be the best time to switch broadband suppliers unless the new provider operates everywhere or offers shorter 1 or 3 month broadband contracts allowing you to switch sooner.
Summary of this section
To help you decide if you want to keep your current supplier or change when you move home, ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you still in your 12 or 18 month contract for your current supplier?
- Will switching tie you into a new 12 or 18 month contract and limit your ability to change providers or deals?
- What's available in the area you’re moving to? Use our broadband checker to find out.
- Could you get something cheaper, faster or less limited at your new address?
- Are you moving out of your provider's network area to somewhere where you'll pay more and/or get less from your broadband?
- Are you moving out of your provider's network area to somewhere where your current provider isn't available at all?
If you've decided to change providers when you move...
So you've decided that you want a different broadband provider at your new address, however this might not be as simple and hassle free as switching broadband without moving home.
What to expect and problems to anticipate
The MAC code system usually used for switching broadband only applies when you're changing the provider on your current phone line. When you're going to move home and your new broadband service will be on an entirely new line then a different procedure applies that you'll mostly have to coordinate yourself.
First you’ll have to ask your current provider to stop your service. This usually comes with a small cease charge that may be as much as £35. If you're still within your contract's original minimum term then you may be required to pay the value of the remaining months up front or you may be able to buy your way out of the contract for a smaller amount. Even after your minimum contract term is over your contract will still likely have a notice period, usually something like a month, 30 days or 28 days. If you don't give the required notice then you may be charged for the remaining days up to the end of the notice period even if you intend to stop using your line before that. You may be charged for any usage since your last bill or alternatively you may be charged a full extra month even if your notice period would end before the next monthly bill.
If you have a separate phone and/or line rental provider to your broadband provider then cancelling your phone line may automatically cancel the broadband service also provided on the line, even if it's from a different company. However if you don't get an automatic confirmation of this from your broadband company then it’s best not to assume this and to instead inform them that you've ended your service with them in case their system continues to charge you.
While it would be best to arrange the broadband service at your new address early to avoid delays, you may not be able to sign up for this until the previous occupant has cancelled their phone line contract. If you're planning to take a broadband-only service where you pay another provider for phone services then you’ll have to get your phone line reconnected and working before you're able to sign up for a broadband service. This can add an additional delay of a week or more to the time taken to get your broadband connected.
Even if your new supplier offers a bundle including broadband, phone calling and line rental, you'll still likely have a delay of a week or 2 to get your service connected. You'll also be charged a new line connection fee of around £50, although this is often cancelled out by promotional offers like account credit to cover all or some of that cost. In many cases special offers like shopping vouchers aren't available if you’re a new line customer rather than switching an existing broadband line.
So to summarise:
- You'll need to cancel your current service, which will incur a cease charge.
- Your contract will include a notice period, if you don't give enough notice then you may be charged for another month or part of a month's usage.
- If your phone provider is different to your broadband, you'll have to cancel that too.
- You should organise your new address's broadband service as early as possible, but may not be able to until the current occupier cancels their phone service.
- If your phone provider is different to your broadband, you'll have to organise this first and you won't be able to sign up for broadband until you have a working phone number - this can cause a week or two's delay.
- If your broadband provider sells line rental and phone bundles with broadband then you can sign up for everything at once with a 'simultaneous provide' new line connection.
- New line connections cost around £50 but some providers will have promotions to cover or reduce this cost.
- Attractive special offers and promotions on broadband might only apply if you’re switching your current line, not moving to a new line.
Change providers during your move or switch after you've moved?
From the above description you may have realised that the process of changing broadband providers as you move home is fraught with potential delays, extra costs and even ineligibility for special offers.
If your current provider will allow you to easily switch your broadband to your new address without incurring additional costs or tying you into a new long term contract then it may make more sense to delay the switch for now and to instead use your existing supplier's home move facility to transfer their services to your new address.
Once you're settled into your new home, you should be able to use the standard MAC code system to switch providers on the new line without having to pay cease and new line charges and without the additional delays that can be caused by changing providers without a MAC.
Of course this option is only available if your current provider operates in your new postcode area. If you intend to switch after you've moved you should be doubly careful to ensure that you won't be tied into a new long term contract should you use your provider's home move service. If you're not able to switch in this way then you should go down the cease old line and start new line route or you could end up tied into a long contract for an expensive inferior broadband service.
So to summarise:
- If your current provider is available in your new area you could use their Home Move service to transfer your broadband to the new line without charges and delays.
- You can then use the MAC code system to switch providers once you're settled after your move.
- This could mean you avoid extra charges or delays, and get to enjoy switcher-only offers and promotions.
- Only do this if you're certain that your provider won't tie you into a new 12 or 18 month contract when you move your broadband with them or else you might find you're unable to switch for a year or more.
If you've decided to keep your current provider when you move...
So you're happy with your current provider’s offerings at your new address, or you've decided to delay switching providers until you can use the more convenient MAC code system. Let's look at what you can do to keep the process of moving your broadband with your home as hassle-free as possible.
What do I need to do to move my broadband when moving house?
As with everything else you have to do when moving house, making a to-do list will help make the process a little clearer for you.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when moving broadband to a new property:
- Check what's available at your new home - your current provider may not operate there, or you may not be able to get fibre or cable services. You can either contact your provider's customer service department for advice, or use our postcode checker to get an idea before you call.
- If you're moving to Hull or some of the surrounding areas, be aware that you may not be able to take your broadband with you. The only fixed line broadband provider available in the area is KC aka Kingston Communications. This is because Hull's municipal telephone system was never absorbed into BT, and so different rules apply.
- Remember to switch your landline provider and your broadband provider - if you don't have your phone and line rental with them, your broadband provider will need a phone line from someone else in place to activate your broadband.
- You'll need to contact customer services to switch both your phone line and broadband, usually over the phone, meaning that you may have to be on hold before you get to talk to someone, and you could be having to relay lots of information twice over if your phone line is with a different company. You should set aside some uninterrupted time for sorting this out.
- You'll need all your account details (including security questions) to hand, along with all the details about your new property. It might help to write these details out on one sheet of paper so you don’t have to rummage through multiple documents.
- Remember to do it as soon as possible to be sure it all goes smoothly on the day - many providers like a minimum of two weeks notice - sometimes more - to get everything sorted on time. You can always call your broadband provider for advice on what's possible and how much notice you'll need to give, without committing to moving right now.
Your broadband provider can make the process simple for you
Most broadband providers have a process in place for making switching your broadband over to your new home as smooth as possible, with little to no downtime.
We've compiled a quick guide below for how to move your broadband with each of the major providers, and you can follow the provided links to be taken to pages with more information on your provider’s website. Other broadband providers are likely to have a similar process, if in doubt contact their customer support team.
Please note, the details below were assembled in April 2014 and are summarised from the provider's own websites or advice provided to us directly, however we cannot guarantee that they are correct. If you're in doubt about current details, always check with your provider. Always verify directly that you're not committing to a new 12 or 18 contract by using the service.
BT's online home move service is quick and simple. You just need to give them your phone number, your account number, your new postcode, and your moving dates - they'll sort the rest for you! They'll also let you know what's available in your new area, and offer you the chance to upgrade if you want to. BT recommend informing them that you need to move your broadband as soon as you have your moving dates. It usually takes less than to 2 weeks to organise everything, but can take longer. So the sooner you set things in motion, the smoother the transition will be. If you have no BT master socket and need a new line installing, BT charges £130. However, discounts apply to customers who choose to take BT up on special deals while ordering.
Direct Save Telecom
Direct Save's Home Move Info or call 0800 027 3930
Direct Save Telecom have several options in place, depending on your circumstances. Just give customer services a call (ideally 2 weeks before you move, as it can take up to 10 days for broadband to be activated), and a representative will talk you through the options and set things in motion for you. It's free to switch your broadband if you're on an 18 month contract, except in the case that you need a new line installation, where you'll be charged £29.95. If you can't commit to an 18 month contract - for example, if you're moving to a short-term let - then there are 6 month and 28 day contracts available for an extra fee.
EE's Home Move Info or call 0844 873 8586
You'll need to give EE's dedicated HomeMove team a call at least 28 days before your moving date (it can take up to 4 weeks to organise), and they'll get everything sorted for you. EE won't charge you if you need a new line installation at your new property, and they shouldn't tie you into a new contract. The HomeMove team will also keep you updated with texts and emails, so you'll know that everything is going according to plan.
John Lewis Broadband
John Lewis' Home Move Info or call 0800 022 3300
You should call John Lewis customer services at least a week before your moving date. You'll need your username and password handy, as well as your moving details. If you want to move your phone and broadband, they just need to know your new address and when you're moving. If you just want to move your broadband, it gets more complicated. You'll need to arrange for a telephone line to be enabled with another company yourself (ask for a simultaneous order and a reference number so you can get your phone and broadband up and running on the same day), then contact John Lewis with all the necessary details about your new address and phone line, and they'll get it all sorted for you.
Plusnet's Home Move Info or call 0800 432 0200
Plusnet ask for 2-3 weeks notice for moving your broadband. You just need to give their customer service team a call with your Plusnet username, your new address, and when you'd like services to start at your new property. They'll keep you regularly updated with the progress of your broadband move.
Sky's Home Move Info or call 08432 16 16 16
You can arrange to book a Home Move from Sky by calling their Home Move advisors, or by speaking to one of their Live Chat advisors online. You'll need to give them at least 2 weeks notice, and have all your information to hand. Standard installations at your new property are free, and Sky will let you know when you book your Home Move if there's anything non-standard that may need to be charged for. In the event that you only want to move your TV service to your new property, then Sky have a Home Move tool in your online account that will help you to do that.
TalkTalk offer customers a free Home Move Service. It's all done online, so you can do it at a time that suits you without worrying about spending time in customer service telephone queues. If you have your details to hand, it only takes a few minutes to sort out, and you can keep track of everything related to moving your broadband, as well as easily changing the dates if you need to. TalkTalk will also install a new line at your new property for free should you need one and will replace your router if it's no longer fit for purpose. If you don't want to go the self-install route with the provided kit, a Bright Spark engineer can install your TalkTalk TV for an extra cost.
Virgin Media's Home Move Info or call 150 or 0845 141 0111
Virgin Media is currently available to around 65% of the country, so it’s possible they may not be available at your new property, especially if you’re moving out to a more rural area. Customer services will check this for you when you call them. Virgin recommend that you call them 6 weeks before you're due to move to make sure it all goes smoothly. You'll need your new and old address details to hand, along with your moving date and Virgin account number, and they'll get everything sorted for you. They can even help you out if you're moving to a temporary address, and will talk you through the options available.
Zen's Home Move Info or call 0845 058 9000
To use Zen's home move service, contact their customer services around 2 to 4 weeks before your moving date, selecting option 5 on the phone menu. You'll need your Zen username to hand, along with your new address and telephone number. Zen also offer a simultaneous provide service for making sure that your phone and broadband are connected at the same time.