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How to switch between Virgin Media and BT

By Mof Gimmers
Tuesday, April 10th 2018

Changing broadband providers doesn't have to be complicated, so whether you are thinking of swapping from BT to Virgin or vice versa, there are just a few simple steps you need to follow to make sure everything goes to plan.

Virgin runs on its own exclusive network, whereas BT operates over the widely used Openreach network, but whatever package you currently have – broadband, TV or phone – switching between the two need not be a hassle. This guide outlines everything you need to know about switching between BT and Virgin Media.

Know which services you want to switch

If you are just looking to switch all your services – broadband, TV and phone – from one provider to the other, then that is a fairly simple task. However, Virgin Media does offer more flexibility than BT in that you can choose to have TV only or broadband without a phone line should you want to.

In general, taking all your services from one provider is ideal as the contract length will be the same, you have one point of contact if any problems arise, and invariably it will be cheaper to take everything in a bundle with one provider too.

Before you go any further, you’ll need to check whether your required services from BT or Virgin Media are available in your area by choosing one of the options below.

Compare and choose a new deal

Virgin only offers superfast broadband with speeds ranging from 50Mbps to 350Mbps so if you are currently on BT standard broadband you will notice a huge difference if you switch to Virgin. However, if you are on BT's entry-level fibre package you will already be getting around 50Mbps – comparable to Virgin Media's 50Mbps, so this would be a good switch if you are looking for a similar package.

When it comes to TV, Virgin offers more in the way of channels than BT, but both providers offer you the option to bolt on Sky Sports and Sky Cinema. If you are leaving BT but want to keep BT Sport, it comes as part of Virgin Media's Full House TV bundle.

Whether you’re after a single service or a TV and broadband bundle, finding the best deal is easiest when all the information you need is one place. Our comparison pages make life easy, enabling you to compare features, costs and contracts simply and effectively.

You need to talk to both providers

Switching between Virgin Media and BT is a bit more involved than switching between providers on the same network, but it just means you will need to contact both BT and Virgin yourself – whichever way you are switching.

If you’re switching from BT to Virgin Media

You’ll need to contact BT to let it know you are leaving and to cancel your services – Virgin won’t do it for you. To ensure a seamless switchover, make sure you arrange to disconnect with BT on the same day or just after your Virgin Media connection starts.

If you’re switching from Virgin Media to BT

You’ll need to arrange your BT installation date first, then cancel your services with Virgin. To avoid being without a connection, let Virgin know your BT activation date and arrange for your Virgin Media service to to be stopped shortly afterwards.

Check your current contract

If you’re still within the minimum period of your contract with either BT or Virgin Media, you will have to pay early termination fees. This won’t apply if your original contract period has expired, and you should be able to cancel without any trouble. Just be aware that BT will charge you a 'broadband cease charge' when you move to Virgin Media's network, regardless of whether you are out of contract or not.

However, if you are leaving Virgin Media and desperate to get out of your contract early, BT will credit your new account with up to £300 if Virgin charges you termination fees. The funds will go into your account and offset future bills – you won't receive a lump sum of cash.

If you are leaving Virgin Media, you will undoubtedly be offered cheaper deals and other incentives to tempt you to stay as Virgin does not like to lose customers. These offers may well be worth considering before you make your final decision to leave. BT on the other hand, rarely gets involved in haggling so don't expect the same treatment if you are leaving BT.

Frequently asked questions

virgins v6 box

Do I need to pay set-up fees?

When switching from BT to Virgin Media there will be set-up fees to pay. This is the case for most TV and broadband providers. Virgin Media should clearly state all these fees to you before you make your purchase.

BT also levies upfront fees. Occasionally these not inconsiderable fees are waived as a special promotion so it might be wise to watch out for that before you switch. BT also charges a delivery fee for your new Home Hub router.

Do I have to give my provider notice I am leaving?

If you are switching from BT to Virgin you will have to give BT 30 days' notice that you are intending to leave. BT will send you Freepost packaging for returning your router and YouView box (if you have one).

If you are switching from Virgin Media, you also have to give 30 days' notice. As with BT, the equipment you received from Virgin when you signed up is included as part of the service and you will have to return the router and/or TV box when you leave. Virgin will send you pre-paid packaging and you can drop your package off at any Collect+ location.

How long will it take to switch?

Once you place your order with BT you can choose a future date for your service to go live. Or if you just want to be up and running as soon as possible, this can be done in a minimum of 14 days. When you switch to Virgin Media you will be given a choice of installation dates before you place your order. If your home has been connected to Virgin’s network previously, you may be eligible to self-install with Virgin's QuickStart pack (within 4 days). If not, then you should be able to get an engineer appointment within 14 days.

Can I keep my BT or Virgin Media email address?

You can keep your BT email address, however, you need to keep using it in order to keep it live. Any accounts that are unused for 30 days or more could be closed down. If you want to make sure your address stays live you can sign up to BT Premium Mail for £5 a month. If you are with Virgin Media, your email account will remain active for 90 days after your cancel, after which time it will be deactivated.

If you set up a web-based email address such as Gmail or Outlook, this will solve any future problems when switching broadband provider.

Will I face cancellation charges?

Minimum terms for BT contracts are typically 18 months whereas Virgin Media ties you in for 12 months. If you decide to cancel your contract before the end of your minimum term has ended then you should expect to have to pay early termination fees regardless of provider. With BT, the amount is determined by which services you have and how many months you have left.

Should you decide to leave your contract earlier than agreed with Virgin Media, it will charge you an ‘Early Disconnection Fee’ instead of the remaining payments for your minimum period. The amount you are charged is dependent on which services you have and how long is left in your minimum period. Virgin will be able to advise you on this.

Can I keep my BT or Virgin phone number?

You should be able to keep your phone number when switching between BT and Virgin Media. You’ll need to speak to your new provider and arrange for your number to be moved over.

Conclusion

Because you are switching between two networks, moving your broadband from BT to Virgin Media (or vice versa) isn’t quite as simple as switching between two providers on the Openreach network, but if you plan ahead and keep all parties informed it should go smoothly and you'll be switched over in no time.

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