How To Switch Fibre Providers
Jacques du Rand 2020-09-13
If you've only just recently got your fibre connection up and running, you're probably looking at this article thinking "why would you switch"? Getting fibre is is no small feat in the first place, so do you really want to go through all that trouble again simply to switch fibre providers?
The Big Question is: Why Switch?
There could be many reasons why people want, or need to switch. From perhaps moving house to the more obvious: service levels.
The most frequent reasons we see at Fibre Tiger for people wanting to switch is that some people find that they struggle with their internet speeds, and or customer service.
Now unfortunately the customer service industry across many industries in South Africa could use some work. Our response to these queries is usually to ask whether their internet experience is okay. If your internet experience is great, but you struggle with customer service every now and again, it's possibly better to stay where you are.
Another frequent follow-up question is usually: "Should I even bother? Is it better to be with the 'devil you know'?" We say: when it comes to performance issues: "down with fibre sluggishness"!
Switch if you're unhappy. It's not worth struggling over and tearing your hair out everytime there is more than one person using the internet. The process is actually a lot simpler than when you initially applied for fibre. Once you have that little ONT device (Vumatel refers to this as the CPE device) in your house you only need to switch service providers (ISP).
Keep in mind that your fibre service has two parts: The Fibre Network (Openserve, Vumatel, Frogfoot and Octotel etc) you're on (you can't choose this); and the service provider (Webafrica, Vox, Afrihost, Mweb etc) you're with - ie: the ISP.
The last one is the one where you are able to switch to another provider if you're unhappy with the one you're with.
We mentioned it is an easier process to switch providers than to sign-up for fibre (assuming you're not moving). As with most contracts, it might be easier as you don't have to deal with multiple contingencies. To switch you only need to deal with 2 tasks (cancelling & switching) as opposed to many things falling into place like when you initially signed up (ie: is fibre available, is the network active, choosing a provider, booking the last mile (the cabling into your house), and then finally waiting on activation). But those two tasks are still dependent on getting two companies to talk with each other and having one party end the contract, and the other party pick up the contract without losing any time in between (ie without internet downtime).
Again, luckily ISPs have by now had some practice with this, so you don't have to be a math whizz to get the entire process to line-up. All you need to do is provide a 30 day warning on the one side and enough notice on the other end. The ISP whose contract is ending needs to "release your line" (your contract with them) and "hand it over" to the new ISP. In reality there are a few more steps to consider, and of course, fineprint (discussed below).
How To Switch
It could feel a little daunting, mostly as one doesn't really know if you really will get a better experience from another provider, but these are the steps to follow if you're ready:
- Cancel the existing contract. Check your contract
fineprint, but most ISPs require a 30 day notice. Tip: Even
though they say "30 days", in our experience this means a calendar month. So if
you're in the middle of September, but you want a new provider by 1 October,
we're sorry to inform you that it will only happen by 1 November.
- You might find the cancellation/account email address on your monthly bill, otherwise Fibre Tiger has a quick contact dashboard for all fibre ISPs here.
- Some ISPs have a Whatsapp Hotline you can message, or you can even contact the call centre (if you like doing that type of thing.)
- Paperwork. To cancel (depending on who you're with) there really isn't much paperwork. However, to sign-up (again, depending on who you're choosing) there may or may not be reams of it. Some have made this process really easy and you just need to provide the basics (contact details, address, payment details).
- Sign-up for a new ISP. Use Fibre Tiger to find and compare
other ISP providers on your network and start the sign-up process. Don't worry,
they can't start billing you until the previous ISP has "released your line" so
the new ISP can "pick it up" and take over management thereof. The process
should really feel seamless and should not affect your internet uptime at all -
if you have given everyone enough notice. (We feel 30 days for this side of the
process should suffice.)
- Tip: What you will need is something called the "B-number" - this is your 'port' or 'line' number the ISP needs to "identify" your line on. Depending on whether you installed the fibre at your premises, you might have this number close to the ONT device (Vumatel refers to this as the CPE device). If you don't have this number anymore, it could make matters a little more tricky - but not impossible. Your old ISP should have this number as well, or may have emailed it to you when you initially installed/signed-up with them.
- Switch Router details. Once you are active on the new ISP, remember to switch over your router details to the new account (PPPoE details). The new ISP will provide this to you once they activate you. This is basically your new account details with them, typically comprising an email address and password provided by the ISP.
- Grace internet period. There is a grace period in the handover, and usually your 'old' ISP keeps your account active for about 5 days or so, just in case something goes wrong during the handover process. So if you haven't received your new ISP router details at least you'll still have some internet.
What To Know (Aka The Fineprint)
The stuff that is possibly most important when cancelling/switching a fibre ISP contract. Every ISP has different fineprint, so you'll need to pull out that original contract of yours and read it thoroughly. The most important things you'll need to note, include:
- Cancellation notice period.
- Any cancellation or 'early cancellation' penalty payments.
- Check for an installation fee "clawback clause". Most ISP packages might be month to month, but if you cancel within the first 12 months they WILL charge you for the "installation cost". This can be anything from R1,000 upwards depending on the network.
- *Router payment or return.
*The router could potentially be a contentious topic, as many providers charge you even when you didn't buy the device through them. Also, if they want it back, almost all routers on the market are geared towards fibre. You don't need your ISP to supply this to you. We have a few fibre routers that we have personally reviewed and would highly recommend.
Interference & Other Reasons Your Internet Could Be Struggling
The reason for your slow internet performance issues could of course also be because of other factors. If this is the first time you're experiencing issues run through this checklist. If you've been doing this a while, it's possibly a good time to switch.
- Check your internet speeds on any of our fibre speed tests.
- Check whether your provider or network is not possibly having issues. You can do this by browsing to their website. They will usually display a message if they are having technical difficulties.
- Your router is possibly not close-enough to your devices. It could be stuck in a room somewhere, or there could be too many walls or floors separating it from where you need to use it.
- Your router is possibly positioned too low. Try lifting it and position it to at least table or shoulder height for best performance.
- Your router isn't strong enough for what you're trying to do with it. Check out this awesome gaming router that is more capable of handling heavy requirements.
- You need to possibly update your router software.
- Check your bands 2.4Ghz vs 5Ghz. There are potentially just too many devices on your 2.4Ghz band.
- You can also check out our other article titled "Why is my internet slow?", here.
- If in doubt restart everything :)
Either way, at the end of the day it's your call whether you want to switch to another provider or not. And we at Fibre Tiger are here to make this process really easy.
- Simply choose your network on our home page. This will in turn load your ISP options available on that particular network.
- Browse the different package options and prices available for all ISPs on that network.
- Pick the ISP that you want to switch to and select "Get Me Fibre".