Ofcom simplifies network switching

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UK broadband and landline customers will find it easier than ever to change provider and secure a better deal, under a new ‘One Touch Switch’ process implemented by regulator Ofcom.

The change means all home broadband users – including cable and full fibre customers – will only have to contact their new company to switch, with no need to speak to their current provider before making the move.

People can already switch between providers on Openreach’s copper network, such as BT, Sky and TalkTalk by following a process where their new provider manages the switch.

But for the first time, customers switching between different networks or technologies – for example, from a provider using the Openreach network to one using CityFibre’s, or from Virgin Media to Hyperoptic – will be covered by the simpler process.

Currently, these customers need to contact both their existing and new provider to co-ordinate the switch, which includes trying to bridge the gap between the old service ending and the new one starting.

Previous Ofcom research showed that four in ten people (41 per cent) who decide against switching were put off by the hassle of having to contact more than one provider. A similar number (43 per cent) were put off switching as they think it will be too time-consuming. And of those who do switch, nearly a quarter (24 per cent) who contact their current provider face unwanted attempts to persuade them to stay.

The new ‘one touch’ process will make it easier to get a faster package, cheaper deal or better customer service when you switch provider. It will also make it quicker – just one day where this is technically possible.

A customer will contact their chosen new provider and give their details.

The customer then automatically receives important information from their current provider. This includes any early contract termination charges they may have to pay, and how the switch may affect other services the customer has with the company.

If the customer wants to go ahead, the new provider will then manage the switch.

Under our new rules, providers will also have to compensate customers if things go wrong and they are left without a service for more than one working day. And we have banned notice-period charges beyond the switch date.

All providers must have the ‘One Touch Switch’ process in place by April 2023. This will involve making significant changes to their systems and will require a wide range of companies to work together. So we have made it clear to industry that work must start immediately to meet the deadline.

“Household finances are strained at the moment, so switching broadband provider could help keep your bills down,” notes Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s Networks and Communications Group Director. “We’re making it as easy as possible for you to break up with your broadband provider and take advantage of the deals on offer.”

A BT spokesperson said: “We want to make switching broadband providers as simple as possible for consumers, regardless of which network they are on. By allowing customers to only have to notify their new provider, we believe this process will do just that. We’re keen to get the new process up and running quickly, and we urge all providers to work collaboratively on this. We also want the new process to extend to switching pay-TV providers, so that the benefits of seamless switching are not undermined for those who take a ‘triple play’ bundle of voice, broadband and pay-TV.”


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