Ofcom Rules To Ease Switching On Different Broadband Networks

UK communications regulator Ofcom has today proposed a new one touch process plan, to make it easier when users switch their broadband providers that utilise different backhaul networks.

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

But now Ofcom has announced “quicker, easier and more reliable broadband switching” for customers using different backhaul networks or technologies.

One Touch Switch

Under the One Touch Switch rules from Ofcom, broadband and landline customers will find it easier than ever to change provider and secure a better deal.

This means that 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.

Because of the 2015 rule change, 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 now 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 or B4RN – will be covered by the simpler process.

It comes after Ofcom in February this year first proposed its new ‘one touch’ process to cut out the hassle of broadband switching for customers utilising alternative networks.

The regulator at the time 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 earlier this year.

How it works

Under the new new ‘one touch’ rules, switching could take as little as one day where technically possible.

A customer will contact their new provider and provide their details.

The customer will then automatically receive important information from their current provider. This could 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 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,” said Ofcom. “And we have banned notice-period charges beyond the switch date.”

All service providers have to have the ‘One Touch Switch’ process in place by April 2023.

“Household finances are strained at the moment, so switching broadband provider could help keep your bills down,” said 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.”

BT reaction

BT has welcomed the news, but wanted the new rules to go further.

“We want to make switching broadband providers as simple as possible for consumers, regardless of which network they are on,” a BT spokesperson told Silicon UK in a statement.

“By allowing customers to only have to notify their new provider, we believe this process will do just that,” said the BT spokesperson. “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,” said the BT spokesperson.

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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