/ Technology

When switching goes wrong – could you cope without the web?

How long could you survive without broadband at home? A week? A few days? Or would you be twiddling your thumbs within a few hours? If you knew switching would cut you off, would you still go ahead?

I know my house would grind to a halt without our regular fixes of catch-up TV, Facebook time-wasting and a range of other critical web-based tasks.

More seriously, many people rely on the internet at home for far more important everyday activities than I do. For example, those who live in isolated places and rely on the internet as a link to the outside world, or those who run a business or work from home.

The bother of breaks in broadband

It’s therefore rather worrying that a recent survey from ThinkBroadband.com has revealed that 20% of broadband users who have switched providers experienced a gap in service of more than a week.

Our own most recent broadband survey of 11,963 Which? Connect panel members showed that the situation is even worse, with nearly half (49%) of respondents being left over a week without a connection while switching their providers.

For all of us, it’s important that switching broadband provider is as quick and simple as possible. After all, risking extended periods without a connection is certainly going to put people off moving to a better deal. Earlier in the year, we asked you what had happened when you switched broadband, and there was a big variation in the timescales involved.

Happily a number of you had a swift experience like Rarrar:

‘I switched ISPs three times in the last few years – always been painless with internet down for no more than 30 minutes’

Countdown only had a brief spell offline:

‘At 7.30am on the appointed day I lost my phone service, but it was back on by 9am. The broadband service took a little longer but was operational by mid-afternoon.’

Some weren’t so lucky though, as commenter John D Limbert was eventually connected with one provider after ‘approx three weeks’, when their previous efforts to switch to another provider had failed as well.

Which? investigates

Here at Which? we’re currently conducting research to take a closer look into exactly what happens during the process of switching broadband provider. The time it takes will be just one of the truths we hope to uncover. We plan to share the results with Ofcom, who are currently reviewing how switching processes work in broadband and phone services.

Have you experienced delays when switching broadband provider, or did everything run smoothly? And if you did get disconnected, how did you manage without it?


I recently re-awakened a legacy building society account that was registered with a previous home address and a defunct email. Thanks to lockdown, I only needed to make telephone and postal contact with the society, after which they restored my online access to my dormant accounts.

Sonia says:
13 March 2022

Switched from post office to Vodafone with live date 28th January, as of today 13 March still no broadband or landline, vodafone blaming openreach, can’t speak to openreach.
Vodafone saying as there is no longer a working line if I go to another isp I will encounter same delays.
Requested deadlock letter but as my case worker isn’t available till Tuesday 15th March no one else can help with regards to a deadlock letter, given case workers name which is different to the case worker I spoke to last week, feel like am being given the runaround and debating whether to live a life broadband free but alas self employed working from home.
Beyond belief in 2022 this is happening.