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What's the UK's best broadband deal?

PC Advisor Home Broadband Survey 2011

The results of PC Advisor's annual Home Broadband Survey and the winners of this year's Best Broadband awards – as judged by you.

Best buy broadband: how to change your ISP

If you’ve decided your broadband provider no longer represents the best-value service or isn’t performing as well as you’ve come to expect, or BT Infinity is coming to your area and it’s tempted you to jump ship, here’s how to go about changing your ISP.

Check that the service with your chosen ISP is available to you. Do both phoneline and postcode checks at the ISP’s website, then check a reputable broadband-comparison site, such as top10.com, for up-to-date information about the actual speeds currently enjoyed by your near neighbours. Be sure the figures listed are current – within the past three months, ideally.

Find out whether any special terms and conditions apply to your proposed service. The length of contract and the need to install a phoneline or change to a new provider (some broadband deals insist that you use the same ISP for phone calls) should all be borne in mind.

Will you need new hardware and do you have to return the router your current ISP provided? Will you be able to take your email address(es) with you and how easy it is to change over and inform friends of your new email details?

Is there any security software provided with the new service? A quarter of our Home Broadband Survey respondents said they use theirs – if you don’t want to go down the free antivirus route, you will need to fork out for ongoing security cover if you’re changing over from an ISP that has been protecting your computer until now.

Armed with all this information – and the advice from existing customers summarised in the individual ISP report cards overleaf – you’ll be in a good position to choose and switch to a new provider.

When choosing an ISP, head to a site such as PC Advisor’s Home Broadband Comparison Site and enter your postcode to see what your locality offers. If you want to know whether BT Infinity is coming to your postcode any time soon, type in your address and landline phone number or consult the BT Openreach logs at tinyurl.com/BBinfinity.

Get a ‘line access report’ from the new ISP. This is the estimated connection speed it believes it will be able to provide you with. It will be dependent on the usual quality of the copper line/distance from the telephone exchange/unbundled or not issues that all ADSL connections are affected by. The figure the ISP gives you will also be legally binding and offers some redress if it can’t deliver.

When you’re ready, give notice to your ISP, obtain a MAC, pass it to the new provider along with the paperwork to set up your subscription, then arrange a switchover date. These days, you have far more control over the whole process – which once you have the MAC, could happen in as little as seven days, if you wish (and other circumstances allow). All you have to lose is a laggy old web connection and the monthly bill as you bid your old adversaries a not-so-fond farewell.

NEXT: our reviews of the Top 10 Broadband ISPs in the UK in 2011 >>

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