Ofcom to make broadband switching easier for consumers

Ethernet plug with fiber optic wire

After demanding that ISPs reduce the cost of switching broadband provider by up to 80 per cent, Ofcom has announced a new system that aims to make it easier for consumers to change between landline and broadband providers.

The new rules mean customers will no longer have to contact their existing provider, for example, to get a code that will enable them to switch.

The move towards one clear and simple system will result in a switching process that works in consumers' best interests.

Instead, the new provider will lead the transfer on behalf of the customer in what Ofcom has termed a gaining provider-led' process.

Ofcom claimed research has shown complex switching processes cause confusion and increase the perception that changing suppliers is difficult.

Furthermore, in a customer-led process, consumers are subjected to excess pressure from their existing supplier, which also has an incentive to delay and disrupt the process, the regulator claimed.

Claudio Pollack, Ofcom's consumer group director, said: "Today's announcement represents an important milestone in Ofcom's work to improve consumers' experience when switching providers.

"The move towards one clear and simple system led by the gaining provider will result in a switching process that works in consumers' best interests. We will now be working on further measures to improve consumers' experience of switching."

Ofcom is now consulting on how to implement the new rules, which also include protections against deliberate switching without consent. The consultation will end on 2 October 2013 and the details will be finalised by early 2014. The new process will come into effect within the following 12 months.

Marie-Louise Abretti, broadband expert at uSwitch.com, said: "This announcement is a long overdue victory for consumers and common sense. We have long campaigned for this change and our research shows that consumers share our view - just one in ten say that the provider you're leaving should handle the switch. This decision by Ofcom will make the process simpler, clearer and less daunting."

Jane McCallion
Managing Editor

Jane McCallion is ITPro's Managing Editor, specializing in data centers and enterprise IT infrastructure. Before becoming Managing Editor, she held the role of Deputy Editor and, prior to that, Features Editor, managing a pool of freelance and internal writers, while continuing to specialize in enterprise IT infrastructure, and business strategy.

Prior to joining ITPro, Jane was a freelance business journalist writing as both Jane McCallion and Jane Bordenave for titles such as European CEO, World Finance, and Business Excellence Magazine.