Ofcom Seeks Easy Switching Of Different Broadband Networks

The UK communications regulator is looking to expand upon its rules governing the easy switching of broadband providers.

Ofcom changed the rules back in 2015 to make it simple and easy for customers using any Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that utilise Openreach network, to switch between different providers.

But that left a gap for those customers using an ISP that did not utilise Openreach’s network, with service providers such as CityFibre, Hyperoptic or Virgin Media.

Switching networks

Ofcom is now proposing a new ‘one touch’ process to cut out the hassle of broadband switching for customers utilising these alternative networks.

The regulator cited research that indicates that four in ten (41 percent) of people using these alternative networks who consider switching, decide not to, as they are put off by having to speak to both their old and new provider to co-ordinate the switch.

A similar number (43 percent) are put off switching as they think it will be too time-consuming.

And of those who do switch, nearly a quarter (24 percent) who contact their current provider face unwanted attempts to persuade them to stay, Ofcom said.

Under Ofcom’s new plan, residential customers only have to contact their new service provider to switch.

The regulator pointed out that last October it put in place new rules to require the new broadband provider to take the lead in managing the switch, regardless of whether the customer is moving between different networks, or to a full-fibre service on the same network.

The new one touch system however will see a customer contact their chosen new provider and give their details.

The customer would then automatically receive important information from their current provider. This would include 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 would then manage the switch.

No hassle

“There are lots of different offers out there from a wide range of broadband and landline providers,” said Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s Networks and Communications Group Director. “And we want to make it even easier for people to get a better deal or upgrade to a faster, more reliable service.”

“We know some customers can be put off by the hassle of having to deal with more than one provider when trying to switch,” said Fussell. “So our proposals today aim to make the process as seamless as possible, for everyone.”

Ofcom is now consulting on its proposals until 31 March, and will publish its decision in the summer.

ISPs will need to make changes to their systems and processes, when the new rules come into force in December 2022.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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