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How to cancel BT broadband

By Aaron Howdle | Wednesday, June 2nd 2021

You 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.

For starters, BT will want you to stay. But maybe it's too late and that zippy 1000Mbps download speed available from Virgin Media is making your current set-up seem a bit sluggish? For whatever reason you've decided it's time to move on, so let's get to it.

First, choose a new provider

If you intend to switch broadband provider, your first stop is our useful broadband and TV package comparison tool, where you can find out which broadband packages are available in your area. You can check this using our postcode checker tool.

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Most of the broadband providers out there will be an easy switch for you, because almost all of them use the same network as BT. Virgin Media is the exception here, in having its own network, but luckily Virgin Media also has good coverage across the UK.

Generally speaking, Virgin Media offers the highest speeds in most areas, with download speeds up to 1000Mbps with its top-end package. Other providers tend to offer perfectly respectable download speeds averaging 67Mbps on a top-end fibre package.

However BT is now offering its Full Fibre broadband service, providing download speeds of up to 900Mbps in limited areas around the UK, so if you are looking at an Ultrafast option from Virgin, you might want to investigate BT first. TalkTalk and Vodafone also offer Ultrafast speeds, but again, in limited areas only.

Virgin Media broadband manages its own network and hence has the freedom to offer faster speeds. Almost all the other providers use the Openreach network to supply their services. As a consequence, their speeds are all pretty similar, with a choice of 10Mbps, 36Mbps or 67Mbps on average.

Do bear in mind that advertised speeds are not necessarily what you will get in your area, since the speed you receive depends on several factors including distance from your local exchange (those green metal boxes in the street), how busy the local exchange is, and the time of day (more people use the service at peak times which slows everybody down). You can see what speed you are likely to get with a new provider by putting in your postcode on their availability checker before you sign up.

Check you're out of contract

It's annoying, but if you are still in your contract with BT there will be a termination fee if you leave. BT's contracts usually last 24 months. If you must leave while still in contract, you will be charged. The termination fee is a set charge for every month remaining in your contract. It's not a trifling amount either, and can add up to quite a hefty final bill.

If you are moving home and BT doesn't serve your new address, it will set you free without a termination fee. However there is some ambiguity here, since circumstances can vary. There is still a possibility of being charged. For example, if you don't immediately move to your new home and your temporary accommodation in between can access BT services, then you could be charged.

Now that's covered, if your contract has ended, then hooray! You can leave by switching broadband provider or by giving BT 30 days' notice. It's a good idea to be organised about this, because if you give less than 30 days' notice to leave, BT can charge a cancellation fee.

Who to call and what to say

Switching to another provider is by far the easiest way to leave BT broadband. Your new provider will handle your split from BT for you and move you onto your new package. The one exception arises when switching to Virgin Media. If you switch to Virgin Media you will need to cancel BT yourself. Be sure to arrange a termination date with BT that matches the activation date of your Virgin Media service so you are without a connection for a minimum time only.

Those cancelling without switching to a new provider need to make a phone call to BT to give it the news. Ensure you have your account details to hand and call: 0800 800150. Bear in mind that BT also offers a number of other services which may be part of your package. For example, if you use YouView TV, which requires a BT broadband connection, you will lose it when you cancel your broadband.

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. If BT Full Fibre, it is available in your area, this might be enough to keep you on board. If speed has been a particular bugbear, then it's good to know BT offers its Stay Fast Guarantee if your speed drops below 100Mbps as a minimum with its Full Fibre services.

Perhaps BT will change your mind. Maybe it's the price that's bothering you? Or perhaps you want an upgrade to fibre broadband? If so, you might get a better deal by agreeing to stay.

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 so you know what you can get elsewhere first.

Frequently asked questions

Does any of the equipment need returning?

You won't need to return your broadband router, provided your contract is over. The same applies to YouView TV; you will only need to return the YouView TV box if you are leaving before the end of your contract. If you contact BT, it will send you postage-paid packaging for free.

Can I leave if BT raises its prices?

If BT raises the cost of your package during the term of your contract, you are free to cancel your service and leave within 30 days of being notified. This is due to a ruling by Ofcom which applies to all broadband providers.

Can I leave BT if I have low download speeds?

You have a contract with BT, which promises certain speeds. If your speeds are consistently lower than promised, BT may be breaking its contract with you, so you can probably leave. However, if you were warned about low speeds before signing up, then it is likely you will be charged an early termination fee if you leave early. BT will provide you with an estimated speed for your property before you sign up.

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