New broadband rules will make switching provider easier – Ofcom

The regulator said customers will no longer have to contact both old and new suppliers to make a switch, avoiding unwanted tactics to make them stay.

Broadband customers will be able to switch suppliers more easily under new plans drawn up by Ofcom.

The regulator said customers were put off from switching between services, especially when changing from those operating on the Openreach network to other providers that use their own cables, including Virgin Media or CityFibre.

Around four in 10 households said they decided to stick with their current provider because of the perceived hassle of having to contact more than one operator.

A further one in four added they faced unwanted attempts to persuade them to stay from their supplier, according to research.

Ofcom said that as a result of the change in rules switching could be done in a single day and would no longer involve households liaising with both companies.

Current rules mean customers can already switch between providers on the Openreach copper network – including BT, Sky and TalkTalk – by only contacting the new service.

But the new rules mean others on their own network of cables – which are growing following the rollout of superfast broadband and include CityFibre, Virgin Media and Hyperoptic – will also be covered by the simpler process.

Providers will also have to compensate customers if things go wrong and they are left without a service for more than one working day.

Notice-period charges beyond the switch date will also be banned.

All broadband networks must sign up to the “One Touch Switch” process in place by April 2023 to give enough time for the companies to upgrade their systems effectively, Ofcom added.

Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s networks and communications group director, said: “Household finances are strained at the moment, so switching broadband provider could help keep your bills down.

“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 the plans were a welcome move and urged TV subscription services to implement a similar scheme.

They 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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