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Ofcom sets out plans to make switching broadband less hassle

Jamie Harris, PA Science Technology Reporter
·3-min read

Switching broadband provider could become quicker and simpler under new rules proposed by Ofcom.

The regulator wants to make the process seamless for consumers by cutting out the need to contact their current provider to cancel.

Instead it will be down to the person’s new provider to manage the switch.

Ofcom believes the move – which it is calling the “One Touch Switch” – will not only make the process less hassle for customers, but also enable people to take advantage of the best deals available.

It would also prevent a gap between the old service ending and the new one starting.

Since 2015, the practice has been possible when switching between companies using Openreach networks, such as BT, Sky and TalkTalk.

But so far this has not applied when changing to or from firms using different network technologies, like Virgin Media and Hyperoptic, meaning the customer has the burden of contacting their existing provider.

Four in 10 people (41%) who decide against switching say they are put off by the hassle of having to contact more than one provider, according to an Ofcom survey of 3,104 people.

Nearly a quarter (24%) of those who do go ahead with switching say they have faced unwanted attempts to persuade them to stay when informing their current provider.

“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.

“So our proposals today aim to make the process as seamless as possible, for everyone.”

Ofcom is considering an alternative idea, called the “Code to Switch”, which works in a similar way to the transfer of mobile phone numbers.

If either system is chosen, companies will need to make significant changes to their systems, Ofcom said.

The regulator is consulting on the proposals until March 31, with the aim of publishing a decision in the summer and enforcing the new rules in December 2022.

Mark Shurmer, managing director of regulatory affairs at Openreach, said: “We already manage around 175,000 switches every month between providers on the Openreach network and that process is designed to be very straightforward for customers.

“We support Ofcom’s ambition to make switching between different network providers equally simple.

“We believe that any solution for cross-platform switching needs to be really simple for consumers and businesses and we’ll be responding to the consultation with that in mind.”