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What happens at the end of your broadband contract?

By Claire Nottage | Monday, December 19th 2022

With millions of customers in the UK currently paying over the odds for their broadband package after their contract has expired, it really is worthwhile knowing when your contract will end so you can shop around for a better deal and save yourself a lot of cash.

Ofcom now requires all providers to issue an End of Contract Notification when a customer’s contract is up for renewal, meaning you can start to look for a new deal and not just drift on, oblivious of the fact that you are paying way more each month. In this guide, we explain what to expect from your provider when your contract ends and how to go about finding a better broadband deal.

How do I know if I am still in contract or not?

There are several ways to find out where you are in your broadband contract. First, look at the paperwork you received from your provider when you signed up. This may have been in paper form or in an email. Your contract start date and length will be stated on the paperwork. If you can’t find the paperwork then contact your provider directly and it will be able to tell you.

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What is an End of Contract Notification?

In February 2020, Ofcom introduced new rules compelling providers to inform their customers when their contract term is almost up. Millions of people in the UK are currently paying vastly more than necessary for their broadband service because they either do not know that their fixed-term broadband contract has finished or because the prospect of finding a new provider is too much hassle and it feels easier to let it roll on.

Ofcom is seeking to improve this situation by requiring providers to contact their customers before their contract ends. On average, customers find they can save around £120 per year by switching to a new broadband deal with a different provider, so if you are looking to save money it really is worth knowing at what point you can make the switch.

When will I receive my End of Contract Notification?

Providers must now contact customers 10-40 days before their contract is up, thereby giving you the chance to look around and consider moving to a cheaper deal. Switching to a new broadband deal generally takes no more than 14 days so this gives you time to search for a new package. Depending on what contact details your provider has for you, you will either receive a letter in the post, an email, or a text message informing you that your contract is nearly up.

What information will I get in the End of Contract Notification?

The notification is a useful reminder that you are approaching the end of your fixed term contract and what you are currently paying for. Whether you choose to keep the same package, change to a new one or move provider entirely, it gives you all the key information you need to make the best decision. Your provider is now legally obliged to inform you of the following:

  • The date that your current contract will finish
  • How much you are currently paying each month
  • What services you are currently paying for
  • How much you will pay once your contract expires if you do nothing
  • The best new deals available to both new and existing customers

If you have chosen to let your contract roll on, your provider must also contact you annually to remind you how much you are currently paying and what other, cheaper deals are available to you. This is known as the Annual Best Tariff Notification.

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What are my options when my broadband contract is up?

Once you have received notification that your contract is nearly up for renewal, the best thing to do is start looking for a new deal. Letting your contract just roll on is by far the most expensive option as the vast majority of broadband providers put their price up at the end of contract. This means you will automatically be paying a lot more each month – sometimes as much as double – unless you do something about it.

Don’t be put off by the prospect of switching providers as it is a very simple process. You can use our comparison page to find a new deal quickly and easily. Once you have ordered your new package, it should be up and running within 14 days.

How to find a better broadband deal

When looking for a new broadband deal there are several questions you should ask yourself before comparing what's out there.

Do you want a call plan?

With most mobile providers now offering unlimited minutes, many people no longer use their landline at all. However, for some it is still necessary, so decide how often you use it and what call plans will be best. Some plans still include evenings and weekends as standard, but increasingly the standard option is now pay-as-you-go calls, which can work out expensive if you end up making a lot of calls.

Are you happy with your speed?

With many households now averaging 5-10 devices that require a broadband connection – from phones to consoles – a decent speed is essential. Even an entry-level fibre speed of around 35Mbps is ideal for most homes, so don’t get swept away paying for a pricey 1Gbps package if you don’t need it.

Before you choose a new speed, it’s worth running a speed test on your current line to see what you are getting. Running several tests over 24 hours will give you a good indication of your average speed. If you are already on a fibre package but you are only getting a very low speed, it is unlikely to make any difference changing to a new provider or paying for a faster speed, unless you switch to Virgin Media, which operates on a separate network.

Do you want a TV package?

If you currently have a TV package bundled in with your broadband, consider how much of it you want to keep, or even if you want to keep it all. Paying for extra channels and TV boxes can soon cause your monthly bill to soar. Plus, with so many streaming services available now that you can stop and start from month to month, it is worth reassessing what you really want.

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Switching broadband providers

It's as easy as flicking a switch these days. Most providers, including BT, EE, Sky, Plusnet, NOW Broadband, TalkTalk, Direct Line, SSE and Vodafone, operate over the Openreach network, so if you want to switch between any of these providers, it should be a painless process with no need for an engineer visit.

The exception to this is Virgin Media. Since Virgin runs its own network, you will need a visit from an engineer to install your new broadband service. As an aside, also remember that if you decide you want Sky TV, you may need an engineer to come and install a satellite dish on your property, depending on which Sky TV package you choose. You can avoid this completely however by signing up to NOW TV instead.

Frequently asked questions

Can I leave my provider before the end of my contract?

No – or not without penalty at least. If you choose to end your contract early you will be subject to early termination fees. These are calculated on the basis of how many months you have left to run until your contract expires, which could amount to several hundred pounds, depending on your package.

Should I get a new deal at the end of my contract?

Even if you are reluctant to go through the switching process, it pays to know what else is out there as this will give you some leverage for haggling with your current provider; it may well offer you a better price to encourage you to stay. However, your current provider is unlikely to offer you a cheaper deal than a new provider since it is always the new customers that get the best deals, unfortunately. Loyalty to your broadband provider does not pay.

Can I leave my broadband contract if I move house?

Most of the time, as long as your current service is available in your new property, you can take your broadband service with you. If you want to cancel when you move – for whatever reason – and you are still mid-contract, you will be charged termination fees.

Can I leave my broadband provider if I’m not happy with the service?

If your provider is not supplying you with the minimum speeds agreed when you signed up then you are justified in making a complaint. Just bear in mind that broadband speed can be affected by many factors, from the location of your nearest street cabinet to the position of your router inside your property.

Can I keep the equipment if I change provider?

Some providers ask that you return any equipment – whether that is the router or the TV box – and others are not bothered, so it is best to double check and ask your provider directly about this.

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