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The Top UK Consumer Reasons for Not Switching Broadband ISP

Friday, July 12th, 2019 (8:41 am) - Score 5,367

Consumer magazine Which? has published the results of a new survey, which asked over 8,000 UK respondents about their broadband ISP switching habits. Overall a third said they were considering a change of provider but nearly half have NEVER switched and here are the top reasons why.

Overall the top reason for nearly half of respondents having never switched broadband provider is because consumers were happy with their current service (43%), which is fair enough. However Which? are quick to remind that customers who remain loyal to their provider (i.e. after the initial contract term) will often end up paying more for their service than new subscribers.

The above tends to be true for only the biggest providers, where heavy discounts on your first 12-24 months of service (minimum contract term) are par for the course just like in any aggressively competitive service market. On the other hand not all ISPs are the same and smaller providers tend to stick to a flat level of pricing, while another option here is to try haggling for a better price (see our Retentions Tips article).

The Top Six Reasons for Not Switching ISP

1. 43% were happy with their current service.

See above.

2. 37% didn’t want to lose their email address.

ISPreview has always recommended that consumers take a free email or hosted email (paid) as opposed to using the email service provided by your broadband provider and this is the reason why. Some ISPs may allow you to keep your address after a switch, while others could charge a fee to retain it or you may simply be given a period of grace before it’s removed. Generally it’s best not to get into this situation in the first place. Keep your email separate.

3. 32% feared the whole process would be “too much hassle“.

In fairness there are occasions where switching can create extra costs or downtime, such as when moving to a physically separate network platform. Nevertheless most of the major ISPs still predominantly use Openreach’s national network and thus switching is usually a much smoother process. The same survey noted that only 12% of those who did switch actually faced difficulties, which is arguably still too high but as usual the level of fear is greater than the reality.

One often overlooked aspect is the hassle that comes from having to set everything up again (e.g. all your wifi devices) when installing a new router. Sometimes it’s possible to get around this by setting your new network up (e.g. IP address assignment, password, SSID) to be the same as the old (requires some IT skills) but another way is to simply use your own third-party router, where possible and supported.

4. 20% say they haven’t found a better deal.

The result here is interesting and somewhat depends upon whether “better” is a perceived factor of price, service quality or possibly a combination of both. Equally it’s possible that those responding may well be on the cheapest deal for their service at present and so would have no desire to switch, which assumes that price is their key consideration.

5. 14% are afraid they’ll suffer slower speeds.

Arguably there’s some crossover here with no.3 above. Which? suggests that most providers use Openreach’s network and so the only real difference between ISPs would, they say, be in Traffic Management measures. In reality it’s more complicated than that because differences can also exist in capacity, network routing/peering, bundled router choice and unbundled LLU networks add in a few extra considerations.

Suffice to say that a fear of slower speeds is not necessarily unfounded, although equally if you choose a higher quality provider, upgrade your package / connection type where possible (e.g. ADSL to FTTC) or switch to a completely separate network infrastructure (e.g. Openreach to Virgin Media or an alternative FTTP provider) then this concern could be getting in the way of an improvement.

6. 13% said they felt loyal to their current ISP.

Don’t be silly. Loyalty usually only has value to the provider that delivers your service and not yourself. Granted if you’re loyal for a reason, such as a long history of good service quality, then that’s one thing but sticking around purely for the sake of loyalty itself it a waste. Broadband providers aren’t political parties, friends or family members, they’re businesses.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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19 Responses
  1. mike says:

    I don’t switch from Virgin for two reasons:

    1. If I did my speed would drop from almost 400/35 to 25/3 with an OpenReach ISP.
    2. They always give me a decent deal when my contract is up for renewal.

  2. Optimist says:

    I am sticking with VM as the speed is excellent, and, unless I moved to a wireless provider, switching would involve re-installing a drop wire to my house from the telegraph pole. I think wires connecting houses with telegraph poles are an unnecessary eyesore anyway in suburban areas as the back haul goes underground so why doesn’t OR copy VM’s example by burying all of it?

    I sometimes get the urge to go out in the middle of the nnight with a chain-saw to get rid of these ghastly poles! (Don’t worry I won’t actually do it!)

  3. AJS says:

    I’ve just switched from VM to Three. Reason? I’ve been a loyal customer of VM for 20 years without any complaints until this year. I had TV, broadband and landline with them.

    Now I no longer have any loyalty discount, the price has increased significantly, the broadband suffers from continuous wifi dropouts and quality issues. The TV suffers from interference. I no longer use the landline and continually receive junk calls.

    I now have an unlimited homefi data sim which fits in a home mobile router which also has a landline connection and free calls and texts.

    Although the speed is supposed to be slower than VM, the response time is quicker and a more reliable connection, even though it’s totally mobile.

    My TV is ow via Freeview Play recorder.

    I am now saving over £40 per month and very happy.

  4. Roger_Gooner says:

    It isn’t just broadband as many people are also Pay TV subscribers. If I switch from Virgin Media I can get BB from Sky (51-59Mbps down, 18-19Mbps up) with a dish that I don’t want on the side of my house. I could go to BT TV but cannot (yet) get the Sky Sports channels I want – and I’d need an aerial on my house.

    And where is the Sky Q via IP which was announced in January 2017?

    1. Joe says:

      Well they have a new box coming soon so…

    2. Annette lancaster says:

      Im not IT, but its not just about the speed, its the contention rate, high speeds won’t guarantee you a stable or even quick connection, its the “ping” that’s your response time, and the “jitter” is the contention of the ping.
      The lower the Jitter is the better the contention, higher the ping is, guarantees you can make those targets on the online games.

    3. ignis fatuus says:

      Ping and Jitter do not always go hand in hand and from someone advocating and trying to get discounts on their service by getting people to sign up to Utility Warehouse you should of experienced a bit of that variable jitter and ping.

  5. Gary says:

    Had a chuckle at number 2, I’ve been with BT for many, many, years despite other options and I still lost my BT email address.

    I never used it, as I did keep my email separate from my ISP, and because of that its been removed/deleted and they wont reactivate it for ’email security reasons’.

    I still find it quite astounding to be honest, For free email accounts I could see some possible excuse but for your ISP to delete the primary ISP email they gave you when you signed up on a continuous active account. Incredulous.

  6. Jigsy says:

    In my case, it’s a choice between TalkTalk, BT, or Sky.

    Either way, I’m still going to get the same speeds I’m getting now. Not to mention Sky force you to use their routers.

    1. Annette lancaster says:

      There is another supply.
      Utility warehouse, winning many awards.
      Simple and fair pricing for all customers.
      Been using them for years.
      If you ring them, quote my ref no B41481.

    2. ignis fatuus says:


      Hunt for your month referal discount elsewhere

    3. MikeP says:

      If BT is one of your options, then there’s no way you’re limited to such a small selection of ISPs.

      And, dependent on length, quality and reliability of your copper, you may get an improvement in speed.

      Since shifting from BT to IDNet and getting a Vigor 130, my download speed has improved by 50% or so, I no longer suffer from the evening slowdowns that many with BT in the village complain of, and when a line fault was resolved, interleave was taken off my line without prompting.

      Oh, and when there is a fault I get the progress updates and resolution details that Openreach send to the ISP forwarded directly to me.

      And, no I wouldn’t use Utility Warehouse. And no, I won’t get any referral bonus if anyone shifts to IDNet.

  7. Phil Jones says:

    Leave BT and if you want to keep your email address they want £7.50 per month. I know many BT Broadband users who will not leave BT as they have had the same email address for years and do not want to lose it, but £7.50 per month is a heavy price to pay and stay put. This should be regulated by OFCOM as BT know they can retain many of their customers by making this excessive monthly charge to keep your address if you leave.

  8. Moses says:

    I am exactly on the same provider (VM) i can’t see my self moving to any other British ISP, because they do not off the same speed VM does on any other levels, 2. all the others that are similar to VM charge way more just for same or similar speeds o uploads that pretty much the same as VM

  9. sam says:

    its crap due to only able to get Openreach crappy network and shoddy speeds

    1. MikeP says:

      I refer the honourable gentleman to my earlier comment.

  10. Nic Elliott says:


    Don’t you think saying being loyal is silly is a tad insulting?

    And saying that you shouldn’t ever feel loyal to a business that serves you something you value seems to be to be really quite cynical.

    You are defining the transaction of them purchasing broadband as some kind of win:lose scenario. You explicitly say that the provider is the only one getting any value, which is patently untrue – the customer is getting a broadband service in return for their money, which is of value to them, or they wouldn’t have bought it.

    For some reason you think that its ok to be loyal to a political party, but not a business – I really don’t know where to start with that one – I would probably argue that most people get way more value out of everything they can do with an internet connection sold to them by a business than they feel from membership of or support of a political party.

    Let people feel loyal and don’t judge them, no matter their reason for staying or going.

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      And saying that you shouldn’t ever feel loyal to a business that serves you something you value seems to be to be really quite cynical.

      Ah but by saying that you’ve overlook my example of a caveat: “Granted if you’re loyal for a reason, such as a long history of good service quality..” So if you’re loyal for a reason, be it quality, value etc. then that makes sense. But what I’m saying is being loyal for no particular reason (assumed to be you can’t think of one) doesn’t make a lot of sense and you should at least be considering the alternatives.

      For some reason you think that its ok to be loyal to a political party

      Not sure how we ended up on politics, which holds no comparison to the commercial broadband market, although I’m not tribal and change my vote to best match my views at the time.

  11. R says:

    “Not sure how we ended up on politics”

    You started it! With this line: “Broadband providers aren’t political parties, friends or family members, they’re businesses”

    Sorry, I seem to have sunk to the level of a politician, I know it doesn’t matter who started it. My 5 year old son is looking at me with contempt.

    I agree with you though, loyalty is financially stupid, most of the time. There is something to be said about the environmental impact of the pile of spare routers you end up with when you change every year or so, and the many miles vans will drive to shift wires about in the exchange.

    I am now paying £19.95 for 36mb/s, which is sufficient for 4K Netflix, which is the most bandwidth intensive thing I use. It wasn’t that long ago that FTTC couldn’t be had for less than £30. Talk Talk has a reputation for atrocious customer service, of course, but when my PlusNet connection failed (due, it turns out, to me using my own router which became incompatible when they changed something), I discovered that their much-vaunted customer service was actually awful. I decided at that point to choose solely on price, since there’s very little differentiation otherwise.

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