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How to switch between Sky and BT

By Steve McCaskill
Tuesday, April 10th 2018

BT and Sky are two of the UK’s biggest communications providers, offering a selection of broadband, landline, television and mobile services. There are pros and cons to both companies depending on your specific needs, but what if you want to switch between the two?

Perhaps you’ve seen a great deal, or you want to take advantage of Sky Q or maybe you’re desperate for BT Sport. Whatever the reason, changing providers might seem difficult at first but it doesn’t need to be. With our handy guide you’ll be able to decide which services you want from which company and how to go about it.

Decide which services you want to switch

Back in the day, the equation was simple. Sky was a TV platform, while BT was a broadband and landline company. But over the past decade, the two have encroached on each other’s area of traditional strength and its possible to get whatever you want from a single provider.

Taking multiple services from one company has its benefits. There’s just the one bill to pay or direct debit to set up, only one company to deal with if something goes wrong, and it often makes economic sense.

But sometimes it pays to shop around, or maybe you want to choose best of breed. For example, you might want to keep Sky Q and take broadband and a landline out with BT to take advantage of its Smart Hub router and get inclusive BT Sport. Make a list of which services you want to switch before you cancel as it can be expensive to reactivate.

Pick a new deal

Once you’re clear about what you want to keep and what you want to change then its time to go shopping. Both providers offer a range of standard and fibre broadband products. Sky’s Broadband Unlimited service has no data limits and speeds averaging 11Mbps, while its Fibre Unlimited promises average speeds of 36Mbps and its Fibre Max offers 63Mbps.

BT also offers standard broadband, averaging 10Mbps with no data limits, as well as Superfast Essential with 36Mbps, while its Superfast Fibre 1 averages 50Mbps and its Superfast Fibre 2 averages 67Mbps. All packages are unlimited and have access to BT Wi-Fi’s nationwide network of five million hotspots.

Line rental is included as standard with both BT and Sky products, but BT does offer free weekend calls, whereas Sky does not – you can choose to either pay for the calls you make or pay extra for an inclusive calls package.

Make sure you check to see what privileges you are losing by changing provider and whether the new benefits make up for it. And don’t forget to see if your new broadband service is available where you live. BT and Sky both use the Openreach network so it’s likely, but it doesn’t hurt to double check.

If you want television services as well, then you can get a triple-play package with TV included too. BT’s broadband deals include access to BT Sport on Sky, so you don’t need to take out BT TV to get it. However you do need BT broadband to get BT TV. Sky does offer TV-only packages via satellite, although you would have to pay an extra subscription for BT Sport.

Making the change

Breaking up is hard, especially over the phone, but because both BT and Sky use the Openreach network it’s a little easier thanks to new legislation that means you don’t actually need to tell your old broadband and landline company that you’re leaving.

Instead, your new provider will speak to the old one to inform them they’re being dumped and both BT and Sky will send you a letter telling you about the change. However the same rules don’t apply to television, so if you’re planning to switch your TV service over, you will have to give your current provider a ring.

If you’re switching from BT to Sky

Simply place your order with Sky, whose ‘Switch Squad’ will talk to BT to tell them about the change. About two weeks after your order has been placed, your landline and broadband service will be automatically switched over. A Sky Q hub router will be sent to you in the post.

If you’re switching from Sky to BT

Place your order with BT who will give Sky the bad news on your behalf. BT will then give you a switching date which is usually within two weeks, unless you opt for a later one. A BT Smart Hub will be sent through the post and you can connect the router easily yourself. If you need an engineer installation (for a new line, for example) then BT will let you know.

Check your current contract

Before making the switch, you should check your contract to see whether there is an early cancellation fee. If your minimum term has expired, then there shouldn’t be anything to pay beyond your final bill.

Sky requires 14 days’ notice for broadband, while BT needs 30 days’ notice. If you leave before either of these terms expire, you could be liable for an early cancellation charge. However, in some cases, your new provider might pick up the bill. Sky will give you up to £100 credit if BT charges you for leaving. Simply pay the charges, send the details along with evidence of payment to Sky and a credit will be paid into your account within 14 days. BT will do the same up to the tune of £300 and pay within 28 days.

During the transition period, it’s possible that Sky will ring you and entice you to stay with them with a fantastic offer – even after you’ve cancelled. BT are less likely to do this, but may still want to keep your custom. If cost is a factor, then it might be worth considering what they have to say, but it if it’s not, stay strong.

Frequently asked questions

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Will there be a setup fee?

With some packages there may be an installation or activation charge, especially if you need a new phone line to be installed or want Sky Q.

How long will it take to switch?

If you’re switching to BT, then it will give you a switching date once you’ve placed your order. This is usually within two weeks unless you choose a later one. You can even change this if you need to, so long as its not too close to the completion date.

If you already have a phone line, then Sky will endeavour to make the switch remotely and this will usually happen within two weeks. If you need an engineer to install a phone line or put up a satellite dish, then it will depend on availability. You can track your order using Sky’s online portal and appointments can be rescheduled up to 48 hours before the visit.

Will I lose service?

BT advises that you should only lose service for around 30 minutes on the day of the switchover, while Sky suggests it is 25 minutes.

Will I need new equipment?

Yes. Sky and BT will supply you with their latest routers to access the internet. For BT, this is the Smart Hub and for Sky it is the Sky Q Hub. The same is true of your TV box. In most cases, you will need to return your old equipment to your previous provider (they should arrange for collection) so that means all your old recordings will be gone.

Will I face a cancellation charge?

Normally only if you’re breaking a minimum term contract. Check the terms and conditions of your previous provider to make sure.

Can I keep my phone number?

Yes. When you place your order with your new provider tell it you want to keep your existing number and the name of your existing provider. If for some reason it can’t be transferred, then you will be given a new one.

Can I rejoin Sky or BT in the future?

Yes, of course. And you can use our guide to make the switch as seamless as possible.

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