Regulator Ofcom is introducing new rules on broadband switching, making it possible for consumers to change broadband provider within 24 hours and only have to deal with the new provider. This comes as the UK media regulator found that four in 10 people opted not to change provider because of the perceived hassle involved, while 1 in 4 complained of being pressurised to stay by their current provider.
While rules brought in in 2015 made it simpler for customers to switch between providers on Openreach's copper network, including BT, Sky and Talk Talk, those looking to move to a provider using a different network or technology, such as Virgin Media, CityFibre or Hyperoptic, were not covered. This necessitated the customer having to liaise with both companies in the switching process and make sure there was no gap between one stopping and the other starting.
The new One Touch Switch service ensures that when a customer wants to switch, the new broadband provider must take the lead in managing the process, irrespective of whether they're switching to a different network or to a full-fibre service on the same network. The new rules also state that customers should be compensated by the suppliers if the switching process takes more than one working day and the end user is left without internet.
All broadband suppliers will have to introduce the One Touch Switch service by April 2023. It is anticipated it will help open up greater competition within the space, leading to better deals for consumers.
What do the new broadband switching rules mean for you?
Although the new service is yet to be rolled out across all broadband suppliers, the steps will be as follows:
- Choose the provider you want to switch to and contacts them directly
- Automatically receive important information from your current provider, including any extra charges you may have to pay for terminating your contract early. You will also receive details of the contract with the new provider and give consent to switch
- The switch is made on an agreed date. You still retain the right to cancel the switch within a 14-day "cooling-off" period, without being charged
Importantly, once the switching service is up and running, there will be no need to contact your current provider to notify them about the switch. However, until April 2023 unless you are making a switch from one Openreach provider to another, you will still need to contact both parties.