Can you move with your current internet service provider? And if so, should you?
How to Move with Your Internet Service
If you’re moving to a new location in the same city, you can usually transfer your internet service to your new abode.
Even if you’re moving to a new city or state, you can often take your current internet service with you if you’re moving somewhere in your internet service provider’s (or ISP’s) coverage area, but there are benefits and drawbacks to keeping the same provider. And if your current ISP isn’t available in your new location, you’ll want to start shopping for a replacement.
We discuss how to move with your internet service and some factors to consider when choosing whether to take your current provider with you or set up service with a new ISP.
Type of connection
Download speeds offered
Monthly price range
|Verizon Fios Home Internet
Here are the steps we recommend when moving with an internet service:
- Check availability
- Ask about your options
- Shop around
- Compare the costs
- Choose to stay or switch
- Schedule an installation
- Return any equipment
- Get new equipment
1. Find out if your provider is available in your new area
Depending on where you’re moving (locally or if you're relocating to a different city or state entirely), your current ISP may or may not be available in your new location. Even if your ISP offers service in the place where you're moving, it may have different speed or connection options available in the new location.
If you’re moving from a highly-populated area to a more rural location, the same company may not be able to provide the blazing fast speeds you were able to get in the city.
Perhaps the same provider you’ve had for years is only able to offer cable or DSL internet, when you’ve become accustomed to the symmetrical speeds you get with fiber internet. If so, it’s also worth checking out what internet providers are available in your new area. Who knows, you might find a great deal on faster speeds or more data.
What to ask your ISP
Before moving your internet, you’ll need to find out the following information from your current ISP:
- If your ISP has coverage in the new location
- If your provider offers the same bundles in the new location (if you have TV, phone, and internet with the same company, for instance, make sure you can still get the same bundled services in the new location)
- Whether or not your provider offers the same connection type in your new area (fiber, cable, DSL, satellite)
- Whether or not your ISP offers the same speeds in your new area
- Plans and pricing in your new area, and if your plan is subject to change
- Any available discounts you can take advantage of in the new location
- Installation requirements for the move
- Any relocation fees
- Any early termination fees (ETFs) if you were to cancel service
- If there’s anything else you need to know about transferring your service
If you can’t stay with your provider, shop around for deals
If your current ISP isn’t available in your new location, you’ll want to start shopping around to see what is available. Some things to keep in mind as you shop for an internet plan that meets your needs include the following:
- Promotional prices and the price after your promotional period ends
- Whether the download and upload speeds meet your needs
- If the plan offers enough data
- Whether your old ISP has an ETF, and how much it costs you
- Whether a potential new ISP offers a contract buyout, like Spectrum
- What to do with your old equipment
2. Contact your provider and ask what your options are
If you like your current service and pricing and your internet provider offers the same plan in your new area, the next step is to get your service moved to your new home. Ask your ISP if you can just do a simple transfer, where you can keep everything exactly the same.
See if you can take your equipment with you or if you need to turn it in and get new equipment. Even with the same ISP, you may need to swap it out if you have older equipment, if the provider uses different types of equipment in the new location, or if your plan speed or connection type are changing.
If nothing is changing, and your new home is already wired and ready-to-go for cable internet, you may be able to connect your internet at the new place without a technician visiting your home. Xfinity, for instance, allows customers to self-install their internet for some simpler installations, especially if the home had Xfinity internet within the past 12 month.
For other connection types (like fiber, satellite, or fixed wireless internet ), a technician will likely have to visit your home to perform an install. A technician will also have to visit your home if it isn’t already wired for internet service.
If you don’t like something about your current service (maybe it’s too expensive, too slow, or the internet goes out too often), a move is a good time to consider changing providers.
3. Shop around and contact other ISPs in your new neighborhood
Find out which internet providers are available in your new area and which types of internet services they offer.
You can usually just type your new address into an ISP’s website and see what offers are available to you. Make sure to read the terms and conditions, as those terms can indicate promotional periods, fees, and other costs not included in the advertised price.
If the pricing and speeds from competing providers are substantially better than what your current provider is offering, consider the long-term cost of switching.
Want to learn more about internet providers? Check out the following reviews:
Calculate the long-term cost of switching by factoring in installation costs, early termination fees, pricing increases after promotional periods end, and other costs.
Keep in mind that your short-term costs are often going to be cheaper with a new provider when you switch, especially if you’re not subject to ETFs from your previous ISP. There are often great deals for new internet customers, like special low prices over a period of multiple years, reward cards, Visa cards, and streaming or gaming subscriptions.
Just be sure to factor in price increases after the promotional period ends, installation costs, and other fees to check if you’ll really get a better value over the long term (or if you should plan to switch internet providers again when your deal runs out).
5. Choose to stay or switch
Once you compare the cost and benefits of staying with your current internet company versus switching to a new provider, make a decision on whether to stay or switch. When staying in the same city, many people choose to just stay with the same ISP, especially if that provider offers a stable connection and fast speeds.
Staying put is convenient, and you already know what to expect in terms of customer service and network reliability. If you do choose to stay with your ISP, remember to ask your provider if you can use the same equipment (modem, etc.) or if you need to turn it in and get new equipment.
6. Schedule an installation date at your new place
The internet has become a utility, so it’s essential for most people to get their internet installed in a timely manner. So many people work from home now, and they need the internet available immediately upon moving into a new residence.
Schedule your internet installation prior to moving, so you can get a technician out on your first or second day in your new home. Don’t wait until you move in to get your installation scheduled. Also, ask if there’s anything you need to do to prepare for the installation, and make sure to complete those steps beforehand.
Even if you’re staying with the same provider, you may need to return your modem or other equipment to your ISP (this may happen if you’re moving far away or if you have older equipment).
If you’re switching providers, you’ll almost always need to return your equipment when you cancel your service. Find out what you need to return, when you need to return it by, and where you need to return it to avoid extra fees. Sometimes you can ship the equipment back to your provider, but sometimes it needs to be picked up by a technician or dropped off. Whatever the process is, make sure you document your equipment’s return in some way. You don’t want to be on the hook for paying for some equipment you no longer have.
8. Consider whether or not you need a new router
To buy or not to buy. Maybe rent?
You'll want to make sure to choose a router that offers the features you need and is within your budget. If you choose to go with your own router, make sure to check that it's compatible with your internet service provider.
With most ISPs, you can find a published list of modems and routers that are compatible with their service. Here's where you can check compatible equipment with the top internet providers in the US:
Now that you know how to move with your internet, here are your next steps.
Upgrading your router will allow you to take advantage of features like guest network access, better network traffic management, and enhanced parental controls.
Here are a few questions to consider before transferring your ISP or going with a new company.
Depending on your location and the specific ISPs, you can have two different internet providers in one house in some cases, but this is usually unnecessary. As an alternative, you can create additional networks for different users using your router’s guest network feature, using a Wi-Fi extender, or by using an additional router.*
Most ISPs will only allow one account per address, but this depends on the provider and your location. CenturyLink may allow customers to add a second internet line when they need more bandwidth.
In most cases, you can just drop off your equipment to the ISP’s local office. But different ISPs have different policies. AT&T asks customers to drop off their Wi-Fi gateway and power cord to the nearest UPS store.
Yes, you can move your router to your new home, but it’s a good idea to see which routers work best with your ISP and speeds and upgrade your router if necessary.