Your business and BT have been together for a while now and it was great at the start, but now it's time to leave. It's pretty straightforward to switch from BT or cancel it altogether; there are just a few things to bear in mind.
If you've been with your current provider for a while, you might not know what's out there, and you could be overpaying for a slower service. In recent years, fibre-optic broadband coverage has significantly expanded, and is now available to nearly 96% of the country, so if it wasn't previously available in your area, it may be now.
Many providers increase monthly prices once you're out of contract, too, so you might be overpaying for slower speeds than you could be getting with another provider.
No doubt about it, BT will want you to stay. But maybe it's too late in the day, and you've found a faster broadband alternative that's making your current set up seem outdated? For whatever reason you've decided it's time to move on, so let's get to it.
First, find a new provider you're happy with
The first thing you should do is contact the provider you wish to switch to and they will be able to explain the process you need to follow. Ofcom rules mean you can leave your provider without being penalised if you're not getting the broadband speeds you were promised when you entered the contract.
You can check out these Broadband Resources here to start your research.
If you’re part way through an existing BT contract
Most broadband contracts lock customers in for a minimum term of 12 to 24 months.
You can confirm your broadband contract start date by logging into your online customer account, or by studying the small print in any paperwork you received when the service began.
Your provider has to say what fees will be paid if you cancel during the minimum contract term, and whether you need to return any equipment they provided you with.
Always send hardware like wireless routers back by recorded delivery, to ensure they’re received safely. If you’re leaving one broadband provider for another, their hardware, like routers or set-top boxes, won’t be useful any more.
Less than three months left on your BT contract
By this point, it might be worth gritting your teeth and seeing out your contract, since a dispute could take longer to resolve than the amount of time left on your contract.
You can always sign up with a new provider in anticipation of your scheduled end date.
Thanks to new regulations from Ofcom, changing broadband providers is easier than ever before.
If you changed providers under the older system, you’ll be relieved to know that these days, you don’t need a migration authorisation code, also known as a MAC code. And in most cases, you don’t even need to contact the provider you want to leave to cancel your contract. Now, the responsibility for managing the switch lies with the provider to whom a customer is switching.
These changes have ultimately made it easier for you to switch, but you may still have some questions. Read on to see our answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about switching broadband providers.
How much does walking away mid BT-contract typically cost?
Broadband providers don’t advertise this, since every case gets judged on its own merits.
Customer accounts tend to involve unique characteristics (such as the level of technical problems encountered, or the physical distance from Openreach pavement cabinets), so no two contracts are identical.
As a general rule, cancelling without the provider’s agreement will leave you liable for the cost of all the remaining bills on your contract.
This is usually required as a lump-sum payment before you’re allowed to leave.
It’s unusual for additional fees to be levied on top, which makes calculating likely exit costs easy.
Work out how many monthly payments are left and add them together.
There are some instances when you may be able to avoid paying any cancellation fees if you end your contract early. If your provider has raised your monthly bill by more than the line of inflation, you can cancel your service without any penalties if you do so within 30 days of being notified about the change.
Another way you might be able to get out of paying cancellation fees is if your provider is in breach of contract — for example, if your actual speeds are significantly slower than promised. This one can be tricky to prove, however.
How long does it take to switch broadband?
Although there’s no hard and fast rule about how long you’ll have to wait before your new service is up and running, the general rule of thumb is two weeks - but again, this is just what you can generally expect; some providers may take up to six weeks.
The easier the switch, the shorter it should take. If you’re transferring an entire broadband bundle or switching the type of broadband - for example, upgrading from ADSL to cable broadband - this can take longer as your new set-up may require installation.
The good news is that once you sign up with a new provider, you should be able to set a convenient installation date, and from there, you can time the cancellation with your current provider to minimise the time you’re offline. The installation itself should only take from 30 minutes to a few hours, depending upon what needs to be done.
Can I keep my landline phone number if I switch providers?
If you’re staying in your current home and just changing providers, your current provider should allow your landline number to be transferred to a new phone company, as per Ofcom regulations. Of course, the new provider doesn’t have to accept this request - but it’s typically in their best interest to do so.
To make sure you can take your landline number with you, ask your new provider if they’re able to make this transfer.
If not, you do have another option: VoIP. VoIP - short for ‘voice over internet protocol’ - is an internet-based phone service. Most VoIP providers will allow you to move or ‘port’ your current landline to a VoIP service for a one-time fee.
BT will want to keep you
BT would rather you stayed, so it's possible you will be offered a discount or an upgraded package as an incentive to remain.
It is always worth seeing what you can get by sticking around, but enter the negotiation prepared to walk away if you aren't satisfied with its offer, and always research the market beforehand.
Small businesses have to keep every penny they spend under close scrutiny. But by sticking with BT - or any other corporate giant - you don’t always get the best deal, and you definitely don’t get the best service.
Our friendly, experienced team are always at the end of the phone to answer your broadband questions and queries - let us know how we can help!