What you need to know about new Ofcom broadband switching rules

·2-min read
What you need to know about new Ofcom broadband switching rules
The new rules will allow customers to switch between providers on the Openreach copper network and those that use their own cables. Photo: PA

A rule change is being planned in the UK to make switching broadband suppliers easier for consumers.

The new process, One Touch Switch, will mean customers can switch in a single day and will no longer need to liaise with both companies.

Currently, customers can switch between providers on the Openreach copper network — including BT, Sky and TalkTalk — by contacting the new service. But people wanting to change networks or technologies between a provider on Openreach and one which uses its own cables have to deal with both the new and old supplier simultaneously.

But the planned changes will allow other providers who use their own network of cables to also be included in the simpler process. 

The number of services using their own cables, such as CityFibre, Virgin Media and Hyperoptic, is rising following the rollout of superfast broadband.

Broadband suppliers will also have to provide customers with compensation if they experience issues with switching and find themselves without a service for more than one working day.

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Notice period charges beyond the switch date will also be banned and customers will no longer have to sort out the end and start dates of their old and new services.

UK media and communications regulator Ofcom found that around four in 10 households said they decided to stay with their current provider because of the perceived hassle of having to contact more than one operator.

A further quarter of people said they had experienced unwanted attempts to persuade them to stay from their supplier, according to research.

Many consumers will welcome the rule change, especially with more people working from home and relying on their broadband connection due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Ofcom.

Ofcom hopes the new process will encourage people to seek out better deals.

"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," said Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom's networks and communications group director.

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All broadband networks are required to introduce One Touch Switch by April 2023 to give enough time for the companies to upgrade their systems effectively, Ofcom said.

Ofcom has brought in a range of measures over the last few years to ensure customers have access to the best deals. These include cracking down on the “loyalty penalty” where customers who stayed with their broadband, mobile or pay-TV supplier were not offered the same discount offers as new customers.

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