If you’ve got a home broadband connection, whether it’s ADSL, cable or fibre optic, then you’ve got a broadband contract with a company. This contract will be for a set period of time, which is usually two years, though it may be for one year or even eighteen months with some companies. Today we’re discussing what to do when your contract ends, and the pros and cons of the various options that you have.
How Do I Know My Contract’s Ended?
The chances are that you might not know that your broadband contract has finished. This is because when a contract ends you don’t necessarily lose service, rather you continue to get the same service and pay the same monthly fee as you did when your contract was in effect. There are a couple of providers however that increase monthly fees when a contract has finished in order to incentivise signing a new contract.
You can find out the end date of your contract very simply. The contract itself, if you have a copy of it, should specify a start and end date. Alternatively, you can call the customer service line for your company and ask them about your end date, they should be able to tell you this information quickly.
Should I Stick with My Company?
Of course, you can always simply sign another contract with the same company, though this might not be to your advantage. Re-signing a contract is easy, requires little work on your part and can be done in just a few minutes, usually over the phone or on line. You might find that you get offered some kind of special deal, such as a lower price or a few months’ services for half price as an incentive to sign another contract, but this isn’t always the case.
The disadvantage of signing up again with the same company is that you might get a better deal somewhere else, and so it’s worth doing some research and finding out about other providers before signing a contract anywhere.
Do You Have New Access to Optical Fibre?
If fibre has been laid to your road then you will have new options such as BT Infinity or Virgin Media Fibre Optic Broadband contracts. These are faster than standard ADSL or ADSL2 connections but do come at a higher monthly cost.
What Am I Looking for in a Contract?
In order to best compare contracts and deals and to find out which provider is going to give you the best offer then you’ll need to know what you’re looking for. There are three main things that you’re going to be looking at.
The first of these is speed. You want your Internet connection to be fast, so that you don’t need to wait for web pages to load or videos to buffer. You can go online using your current provider and perform a speed test to see which speeds you’re getting (simply Google speed test, it’s an easy test that takes a couple of minutes). If you’re happy with your current speeds, then these are the speeds you’re looking for in another plan, and if you’re not happy, then you should look for something faster.
The second element is data limit. Many broadband plans have data limits, which is very basically a limit to how much Internet you can use. If your current plan has a limit and you are happy with it, that’s fine, but if you find that you’re consistently going over your limit and paying extra charges then you might want to look for a higher limit next time. Alternatively, if your monthly usage gets nowhere close to your current limit then you might want to save some cash by going with a smaller plan next time.
The third factor is what kind of broadband you have. There are three main types of broadband plan. ADSL broadband will use your home phone line to transport data, whilst cable broadband uses cable television connections, and fibre optic broadband uses a special fibre optic cable. All of these systems have good and bad points, and you may want to look into the alternatives before you sign a plan.
Finding the Best Deals
Finding the best plan for you is relatively easy these days since you can just go online and search a broadband comparison site. Using a site such as uSwitch.com you can enter what kind of broadband plan you’re looking for (i.e. ADSL, cable or fibre optic), then the data limit that you’re looking for, and finally the minimum speeds that you require. You’ll then get a list of plans with many providers including Virgin, Talk Talk and BT Infinity. You can check out all the deals and find the best one for your circumstances.
Is Switching Okay?
If you find that the best plan is with a different provider from the one that you’re currently using, then don’t worry about changing companies, for the most part this is a simple process and you may not lose connectivity at all.
Before you cancel your current contract you’ll need to call your provider and ask for a MAC code, this will make the switching process faster and easier, and should mean that you’re without Internet for the minimum amount of time, if at all. Once you have your MAC code, you can cancel your current contract and then call your new provider and give them the MAC and they’ll arrange the switching process.
You can change companies without a MAC code, but the process will take longer and you may be without Internet service for some time.
Are There Any Other Considerations?
There are a couple of other things that you might want to keep in mind while you’re thinking about your options. If you received equipment from your current provider (such as a Wi-Fi router) you will probably need to return it, or be held responsible for the cost of the equipment. For this reason, you should look for plans that give you free equipment when shopping around (most companies do).
You might also find that when you try to cancel your current service that you get a better offer to stay, not all providers will do this, but some will, in which case if you’re happy with your current service you can simply re-sign your contract at a better rate.
When wanting to find out more about various broadband products, Phil Turner visited this page on the uSwitch website http://www.uswitch.com/broadband/products/bt_infinity/
Photo Credit: O2Ireland