Check how to switch your internet, phone or TV provider

This advice applies to England. See advice for See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Scotland, See advice for Wales

You might be able to save money by switching to:

  • a new provider for your internet, mobile phone, landline or TV

  • a bundle deal that's made up of 2 or more of these services

There are different processes for switching your internet, phone or TV provider.

Before you switch

If you’re struggling to pay for your phone or internet, talk to your provider. Ask if they can offer you a cheaper deal. You can find their contact details on their website or on a letter from them.

You could tell your provider you're thinking of switching to a cheaper deal with a different provider. Your provider might offer you a cheaper deal to get you to stay with them.

If you don’t want to stay with your current provider, find out if you’ll be charged an ‘exit fee’ to leave - check your contract or contact your provider. You’ll usually be charged an exit fee if you want to leave before the end of a fixed-term contract. This can be expensive, so it might be better to wait until your current contract ends. 

You can check if you’ll be charged an exit fee to leave your mobile contract by texting the word ‘INFO’ to 85075. It’s free to text this number. 

If you’re near the end of your contract, your provider should contact you to remind you. They’ll also let you know about their best available deals.

If you’re getting benefits

You might be able to get a cheaper internet, mobile or landline deal called a ‘social tariff’. It depends which benefits you get.

If your provider has a social tariff, you won’t have to pay to move to it. You can move at any time - you don’t have to wait until the end of your contract.

If your provider doesn't offer a social tariff, you can switch to another provider who does.

Check which providers offer social tariffs on the Ofcom website. You can then check the provider's website to see if you can switch to their social tariff.

You’ll need to check that:

  • you’re on the right benefits for the social tariff

  • you’re the main account holder named on your contract 

  • the social tariff package covers all the services you need

If you're renting

Check your tenancy agreement - it might say you can’t switch internet, landline or TV provider. 

Ask your landlord for a copy of your tenancy agreement if you don’t have one or can’t find it.

If your tenancy agreement doesn’t say anything about switching TV providers, you should still check with your landlord. They might say you can’t switch TV providers if it involves drilling holes for cables or putting up a satellite dish.

Choosing a new contract

You should compare tariffs from different providers to find one that suits your needs and budget.

You should check:

  • how long the contracts are for

  • any charges for installation, line rental or connection

Sometimes you might be offered 6 or 12 months free or discounted - check how much the monthly fee will be after the offer ends. 

You might also want to think about getting a bundle - a deal with one provider that includes internet, landline and TV. They’re sometimes cheaper and will also simplify your monthly bills.

You’ll usually find better deals online than in shops or on the phone. Use a price comparison site approved by Ofcom - this means they’re independent and unbiased.

Check which price comparison websites are approved by Ofcom on their website.

If you're signing up to a contract that lasts 12 months or more

Make sure you can afford the service for the length of the contract. 

Ask your provider what happens if you move house - you should be able to take your services with you at a small cost.

Choosing an internet provider

You might not get the internet speed that’s advertised, depending on where you live. 

You can check your internet speed on the Ofcom website. This will help you compare speeds advertised by other suppliers with what you’re getting now.

When you’re searching for deals you might see ‘superfast’ internet or broadband advertised. This is sometimes also known as ‘fibre’ internet. It can be expensive, and you’ll only really notice the difference if you:

  • use the internet at the same time as other people in your house

  • download films or large files regularly 

  • play lots of video games online

If you can’t get a decent connection speed with any provider, you can ask BT or KCOM for an upgraded connection. You can find out more about asking for a decent internet service on the Ofcom website.

Choosing a mobile phone provider

Before looking at new deals, find out: 

  • how many minutes and texts you use, and how much data you’ll need - ask your current provider if you’re not sure

  • the customer service ratings of providers - you can check the ratings on the Ofcom website

Decide whether you want a SIM-only deal or a package including a new phone. A SIM-only deal is usually more flexible but you might need to buy a new phone, which can be expensive.

If you need help budgeting, you might want a pay-as-you-go phone. It doesn’t require a credit check, but it can be more expensive if you use your phone a lot.

Choosing a landline provider

Think about what type of calls you make. You might want a deal with:

  • unlimited weekend calls 

  • anytime calls

  • calls to mobiles

If you’ll be making lots of calls to people outside of the UK, you should also check for deals with an international calling plan.

The technology used to make landline phone calls is changing. Your new phone provider could move you to a digital landline service.

Check how switching to a digital landline might affect you on the Ofcom website.

If you don’t have a mobile phone

Digital landline services won't work during a power cut.

If you’re dependent on your landline and don’t have another way to contact emergency services during a power cut, your provider must offer you an alternative.

You should ask your landline provider what alternative they'll give you. For example, you might get:

  • a mobile phone

  • a battery back-up unit for your landline

If you use a personal care alarm

If your alarm is connected to your landline network, ask your landline provider or device manufacturer if it will work with your new digital landline.

A personal care alarm might be:

  • a fall monitor

  • a lifeline

  • a personal alarm 

  • a telecare device

  • a security alarm

If your alarm is connected to a digital landline network it might not work during a power cut. Ask your provider if they can offer you a solution, like a back-up battery.

Choosing a TV provider

You won’t need a subscription package if you only want to access the Freeview and Freesat channels - you’ll only need a digital set top box, digital TV with built-in Freeview or digital TV recorder.

If you want more channels, recording services or HD (high definition) channels, you’ll have to pay.

Check with the new providers if the contract will involve things like:

  • drilling holes into walls for new cables

  • putting up a new satellite dish

You might need to pay for these items to be installed.

Switching to a new provider

Once you’ve found the right deal, you’ll need to sign up to your new contract. 

Before you switch, pay your final bill with the old provider or get a refund if you’re in credit.

The time it takes to switch depends on the provider. Your old and new provider will send you letters to tell you roughly when the switch will happen.

Switching internet providers

The process for signing up will depend on whether your current and new internet providers are on the Openreach phone network.

Check which providers are on the Openreach phone network on their website - you’ll need to select the heading ‘Get FTTP for your home in Great Britain’.

If both providers are on the Openreach phone network

Contact your new provider - they’ll arrange for your internet to be switched. 

Your new and old provider will both send you a letter to let you know: 

  • roughly when the switch will happen 

  • if you need to pay any fees - for example if you’re leaving your contract early

If you’re moving to or from a bundle, your new provider will let you know which of the services will be switched.

If either provider isn’t on the Openreach phone network

You’ll need to contact both your current and new provider.

Ask your current provider to stop your service - they’ll confirm when your contract is ending and if you need to pay any charges.

Your new provider will let you know when your new contract will start.

Switching mobile phone providers

The easiest way to switch your mobile phone provider is by sending a text. 

If you want to keep your mobile number, text ‘PAC’ to 65075. If you don’t want to keep your mobile number, text ‘STAC’ to 75075. Texts to these numbers are free. 

Your current provider will reply with:

  • a ‘PAC’ or ‘STAC’ code - these will be valid for 30 days

  • any charges you have to pay - for example if you’re leaving your contract early

  • your credit balance, if you’re a pay-as-you-go customer

You can also switch by calling your current provider or going to your online account on your provider’s website.

If you have more than 1 number linked to your account you’ll need to switch online or by phone - for example if you have a family mobile package.

Give your code to your new provider. They’ll arrange for the switch to be completed within 1 working day.

Switching landline providers

Contact your new provider. They’ll arrange the switch for you and let your old provider know.

You should be able to keep your old number - unless you’re moving house. Check with the provider you’re switching to.

Switching to a TV bundle

A TV ‘bundle’ is a deal with 1 provider that also includes internet, phone, or both.

You might need to contact your current providers to let them know you’re switching - ask your new provider for advice.

If you change your mind after switching

You might be able to cancel your contract without a fee within the first 14 days. This is called a ‘cooling off period’.

Check if you can cancel your contract without paying a fee.

If you have a problem switching provider

If the switch is taking too long, contact your new provider to check when the switch will happen.

If you’ve switched but you’re still being charged by your old provider, contact both your old and new provider. Ask to follow their complaints procedure.

Further help

Contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133 if you need more help - a trained adviser can give you advice over the phone. You can also use an online form.

If you’re in Northern Ireland, contact Consumerline.

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Page last reviewed on 13 December 2022