The regulator said the measure should make it easier for customers to coordinate a move to a new fixed line network, with a loss of overall service not allowed to exceed a single day
Back in February, Ofcom began consulting on proposals for a new One Touch Switching (OTS) process for fixed voice and broadband customers, a move which they argue will make it much easier for customers to find better deals.
Now, Ofcom has announced that it has finalised these plans, with OTS to be introduced from April 2023.
The motivation behind the introduction of OTS is clear enough to see. Currently, switching between various ISPs that use the same network infrastructure is relatively straightforward, with customers contacting their new supplier who then takes the lead in the process.
However, when the switch involves changing to different network infrastructure – such as moving from Openreach to Virgin media ¬– the process can be much more convoluted. It is often left to the customer to coordinate the switch, arranging to have their existing service cancelled and a new one initiated separately. In some cases, this can lead to customers paying for two services at once or going lengthy periods of time without any service at all.
OTS seeks to simplify this process, making it similar to switching between providers on the same infrastructure; i.e., contacting your new supplier who then leads the transition process. Ofcom also stipulates that a customer undergoing a switch will not be allowed to go more than one working day without service during the switching process, unless it is technically unavoidable. ISPs will be expected to compensate customers if these expectations are not met.
It should be noted that this change is for residential customers only, with Ofcom arguing that businesses have varied needs that do not warrant being covered by such a blanket ruling.
“There is diversity among business which means it may not be appropriate to specify certain rules that would apply to all business customers in the same way as to residential customers,” said the regulator.
The impact of OTS should not be underestimated. Ofcom notes that 41% of customers who consider switching but ultimately do not are dissuaded due to the hassle associated with the process of contacting multiple providers. Their report showed that 43% do not switch because they believe the process will be too time consuming.
In a statement, BT said they were “keen” to implement the new process as quickly as possible.
“We want to make switching broadband providers as simple as possible for consumers, regardless of which network they are on,” said a BT spokesperson. “By allowing customers to only have to notify their new provider, we believe this process will do just that. We’re keen to get the new process up and running quickly, and we urge all providers to work collaboratively on this. We also want the new process to extend to switching Pay TV providers, so that the benefits of seamless switching are not undermined for those who take a “triple play” bundle of voice, broadband and pay TV.”
A final consultation on OTS is ongoing and will remain so until the 9th of November this year, with final confirmation expected in early 2022.
What does easier switching mean for fixed line customers in the UK? Find out at Connected Britain 2022
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