Ofcom proposes ‘one touch’ broadband switching


Residential broadband and home phone customers would benefit from quicker, simpler and more reliable switching, under Ofcom’s plans to introduce a new ‘one touch’ process

Following an Ofcom rule change in 2015, customers switching between providers such as BT, Sky and TalkTalk on Openreach’s copper network can already follow a process where their new provider manages the switch. However, others are still left facing extra hassle to switch.

For example, customers switching between different networks or technologies – such as those moving from a provider using the Openreach copper network to one using CityFibre’s, or from Virgin Media to Hyperoptic – currently need to contact both their existing and new provider to co-ordinate the switch. This includes trying to make sure there is no gap between the old service ending and the new one starting.

Indeed new Ofcom research shows that four in ten people who decide against switching are put off by the hassle of needing to contact more than one provider. A similar number are put off switching as they think it will be too time-consuming. And of those who do switch, nearly a quarter who contact their current provider face unwanted attempts to persuade them to stay.

The new ‘one touch’ process would make it easier for all residential broadband customers to take advantage of the range of deals available in the market. The changes will also make it quicker to switch – in as little as one day if technically possible.

Says Rocio Concha, Which? Director of Policy and Advocacy: 

“The pandemic has highlighted the importance of a good broadband connection, however when it comes to switching to get a better deal or service, some people have faced issues with the current process, which is not as easy as it could be.”

“This proposal to introduce a ‘one-touch’ switching process, which could also reduce switching time, is good news for consumers and will remove unnecessary barriers that could discourage them from moving providers.”

Adds Richard Neudegg, head of regulation at Uswitch.com:

“Ofcom’s proposals to simplify the switching process for those changing broadband networks are vital to build consumer confidence.

“Switching broadband can feel like a complicated process and can put some consumers off searching for a better deal, potentially costing them £90 a year as they sit out of contract with their existing provider.

“Ofcom is proposing the right solution – one that makes a real effort to futureproof the broadband switching system. It’s vital that the telecoms industry gets behind this bid to implement the proposed one-touch process by the end of 2022, to give consumers much-needed peace of mind when it comes to switching their broadband.”

In October 2020, Ofcom put in place new rules that include requiring 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.

This follows new rules introduced in 2019 that enable mobile phone customers to switch operator by simply sending a free text message.

How One Touch switching would work: 

  • a customer would contact their chosen new provider and give their details;
  • the customer would then automatically receive important information from their current provider, such as any early contract termination charges they might have to pay, and how the switch could affect other services the customer has with the company; and
  • if the customer wants to go ahead, the new provider would then manage the switch.


Chris Price
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