Have broadband switches been affected by coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Now that restrictions have been lifted in the UK, what it's like switching your broadband?

The social and legal regulations surrounding COVID-19 have been lifted here in the UK meaning that workplaces, schools, pubs, gyms and restaurants are mostly back to operating as normal. 

If you’re thinking about switching to a new broadband provider you may be wondering what effect this removal of restrictions has had on the process. During lockdown, it did change quite a bit with certain products not available and engineer visits being suspended for example. 

This guide will take you through how some of the UK’s major broadband providers are currently handling switching so you can go ahead and get started. 

Switching within the BT Openreach network 

A number of providers use the BT Openreach network, such as EE, John Lewis, Now Broadband, Plusnet, Sky, Shell Energy, The Post Office, SSE, TalkTalk, Vodafone and of course BT themselves.

As they all operate on the same network line, an engineer is not required to come out to your home if you’d like to switch from one to the other. A home wi-fi router from your new provider will be sent out to you which you can then connect up.

Therefore, if you’re switching within the Openreach network - your broadband switch will go ahead as normal.

Now that restrictions in the UK have been lifted, Openreach engineers can enter your home to carry out any work or repairs that are needed. They’ll still adhere to social distancing measures whilst inside your home and will contact you shortly before their visit to ensure nobody is ill with COVID-19 or having to self-isolate.

They were suspended for a time during lockdown but top-tier ultrafast subscriptions can now be purchased from providers like Sky, BT and TalkTalk. These subscriptions will still generally have limited availability but that’s down to their gradual rollout rather than anything related to COVID-19.

Switching to and from BT 

BT is delivering equipment such as Smart Hubs and TV boxes as usual. 

Installations requiring an engineer are going ahead if needed for all customers, including those who are vulnerable and those stuck without any broadband.

As previously mentioned, ultrafast broadband (fibre-to-the-premises) is available too.

Have BT made any changes to their service as a result of COVID-19?

  • BT removed all usage caps from their broadband subscriptions during lockdown and have since confirmed that this change will be a permanent one.

Switching to and from Sky 

Orders for Sky broadband and Sky TV are carrying on as normal which goes for both new customers and those seeking to upgrade their service.

Engineers will come out to your home if it’s necessary but otherwise you’ll be sent your new Sky Hub wireless router in the post so you can set it up yourself.

Has Sky made any changes to their service as a result of COVID-19?

  • Sky also decided to remove all usage caps from its subscriptions in lockdown. The provider has said that this will continue for the “foreseeable future.”

Switching to and from TalkTalk

Customers switching to TalkTalk will receive a starter kit in the post containing a router so you'll have service upon plugging it in and turning it on.

If installation is required, as may be the case for a few customers, engineers can now enter your home. They’ll always abide by Openreach regulations when inside which includes wearing a mask and wiping down any surfaces they’ve touched after finishing.

Has TalkTalk made any changes to their service as a result of COVID-19?

  • Usage caps on all of TalkTalk’s subscriptions were previously removed so customers didn’t have to worry about going over their limit. They too have elected to make this a permanent fixture.
  • TalkTalk has created a dedicated line for vulnerable customers in the UK which is still open between 9am-12pm every Monday to Friday.

Switching to and from Plusnet 

Plusnet is accepting new broadband customers and providing you’ve got an active phone line, there shouldn’t be any delays in getting you up and running.

Has Plusnet made any changes to their service as a result of COVID-19?

  • Call centre contact hours are 8am-8pm to help maintain excellent service and assist as many customers as possible.  
  • There’s now the possibility of a payment plan if you’re still struggling to pay your bills as a result of COVID-19. 

Switching to and from EE

Now that engineer visits are possible, EE is welcoming customers from all providers and not just those who fall under the Openreach umbrella.

EE’s lightning-fast Fibre Max plans, with average download speeds of 145Mbps, 300Mbps and 900Mbps respectively, are now again available for purchase.

Has EE made any changes to their service as a result of COVID-19?

  • EE has put together a Perks Package exclusively for NHS staff. You’ll get access to a 20% discount off pay monthly, SIM Only and broadband plans, fast track repairs and free data at a speed of 2Mbps if you go over your allowance. 

Switching to and from other Openreach network providers

It’s a similar story for all Openreach network providers. As long as you are coming from or going to an Openreach provider, you’re all good to switch.

Switching to and from Virgin Media

Virgin Media is different to all the other suppliers listed above. Why? Because they’re not part of the Openreach network as many other providers are. You’re still able to switch between them however, it just means that an engineer is required to get you up and running.

During the lockdown, Virgin Media began issuing Quick Start self installation packs so switches could still go ahead in the absence of engineer visits. These packs are still available, but only to those customers who’ve previously had the Virgin Media service, to order if you’d like.

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