Easier Broadband Switching on the way? Ofcom says so
UK broadband customers are systematically discouraged from switching broadband services due to the inconvenience and hassle of having to contact both the outgoing and incoming companies. This is primarily due to incompatibility between broadband and fibre network standards across the industry. Ofcom has drawn up a “One-Touch” plan to make changing broadband a more consumer friendly experience.
Ofcom plan for hassle-free broadband switching
Ofcom calls their seamless switching plan “One Touch” because the process would simplify comparing and changing broadband providers for all UK customers. Not just those who already benefit from companies with pre-existing switching compatibility arrangements.
The Ofcom One Touch plan aims to make the back and forth, many customers have to currently go through with old and new broadband providers, a thing of the past. With Ofcom's plan, a customer gets in touch with the new provider to share details, forcing the old provider to communicate any termination fees as well as the impact of the switch on package deals with mobile or TV.
If the customer wants to go ahead with the switch, it’s the responsibility of the new provider to handle the process. This means that many UK broadband customers will no longer have to play phone pingpong between companies to get the switch done, no matter who the broadband companies are.
Why is Ofcom proposing easier Broadband switching now?
Ofcom has carried out extensive surveys to understand the roadblocks when it comes to UK households getting the broadband deal they want. The numbers truly speak for themselves with over 40% of people declaring that the current switching process involves too much hassle which customers feel is a waste of time.
With those customers that do persist through the broadband switching process, almost a quarter of them report being subjected to pushy sales practices attempting to coerce them into staying with the existing broadband provider. These underhand attempts are contributing to customer dissatisfaction and complaints. The impact of sitting out a broadband contract can cost a UK household almost £100 a year - money better spent elsewhere.
This latest step in easing the broadband switching process follows on from earlier moves from Ofcom in making broadband services more consumer friendly. With the rollout of faster fibre broadband throughout the UK, over 95% of British households have the possibility of getting significantly snappier internet. However, fast fibre broadband uptake is currently sitting at around 60% of UK households. Ofcom believes that the gap in fast and affordable internet adoption is made worse by byzantine switching practices in the broadband sector.
It’s worth noting that even some broadband providers are welcoming the plan. Charlie Davies, a director at Hyperoptic, sees Ofcom’s move as shifting “power to shop around decisively in the customer’s favour”. Additionally, easier switching will increase adoption of faster fibre which benefits companies that have jumped to more up to date internet infrastructure.
When will Broadband be easier to switch?
Ofcom has announced that the consultation phase for their plan will go on until the end of March this year. The purpose of this is to allow Broadband companies to give feedback on Ofcom’s proposal.
After March 31st, Broadband companies will have to implement changes to comply with the plan by December 2022. Through this plan, Ofcom will also make it compulsory for broadband companies to compensate customers if a household is left without internet connection for more than one day.
What can I do now to get better Broadband?
The downside is that Ofcom’s plan won’t be applicable overnight. Until December 2022, broadband customers are still going to be the ones that have to do all the legwork if they want faster or cheaper broadband.