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Ofcom: ‘Making it easier to change telecoms provider’

Changes afoot for broadband and phone switching

Ofcom proposes changes to simplify broadband and phone switching for consumers 

Ofcom proposes changes to simplify broadband and phone switching for consumers 

Ofcom has today proposed a set of measures to make changing broadband and phone providers ‘simpler and more reliable’ for consumers.

The first phase of a wider switching review, it focuses on the process for switching broadband and phone providers on the Openreach ADSL copper network. 

Ofcom has been reviewing the area after research showed that consumers can face a number of problems when changing their service provider. It found that one in five consumers switching their broadband lost their service for about a week. It also found that around 130,000 households have faced problems with the wrong telephone line being taken over during the switching process or when moving house over a year long period. 

The first phase of this consultation is looking at switching landline and broadband services, but doesn’t include cable or fibre services. These will be looked at in future phases, as well as mobile and pay TV services.

Which? and switching 

Switching processes for telecoms services should be made as simple as possible for consumers who want to change to a new provider. It should also promote competition among providers, hopefully leading to better deals for all consumers. 

Which? Scientific Policy Advisor, Rob Reid, says: 

‘Which? welcomes the publication today of Ofcom’s consultation on switching phone and broadband services. Consumers have told us that switching telecommunications providers is often a frustrating process and we welcome this opportunity to work with the regulator to make sure that this is improved.’

Ofcom’s proposed changes

Ofcom has put forward a number of possible options to help consumers change provider in future. These include making improvements to the existing processes, process where customers only need contact the provider they want to switch to and processes where customers would need to contact the provider they want to leave. 

Ofcom has already highlighted what its preliminary preferred option would be. This would be a process where the new provider would manage the switching process, meaning the consumer wouldn’t have to go back to their old provider to get a MAC code. To make sure ‘slamming’ doesn’t occur – where customers are switched without their knowledge or consent – the switch would be checked and managed by an independent third party. It recognises that this could be more costly than the other options but it believes the evidence suggests that this is justified by the long-term consumer benefits.

The 10 week consultation period has now begun but a final statement from is not expected until early 2013. Which? will be submitting an official response to this consultation. 

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