Media regulator Ofcom says new rules will make it faster and easier to switch broadband provider.
Customers will only need to contact the new company they wish to work with, even if they are switching to a different type of technology.
The “one touch” switching process, according to Ofcom, could take as little as a day, with customers entitled to compensation if it takes longer.
The same system will be used to change landline phone lines.
The change is essentially an expansion of the system that is already in place for providers who use the same type of technology.
Some providers, for example, BT, Sky, and TalkTalk all use the Openreach copper cable network, and switching from one of those providers to another has long been relatively simple.
However, switching from one of those copper providers to a cable or fibre optic system, such as Virgin Media or Hyperoptic, has required customers to spend time on the phone coordinating the transition between several companies.
That will no longer be the case by April 2023, at the latest.
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According to Ofcom, the new rules will make switching providers much faster and easier, and broadband providers will be required to compensate customers “if things go wrong and they are left without a service for more than one working day.”
According to its research, 41 percent of people who decide not to switch providers are “put off” by the current process, while 43 percent believe it will take too long.
Among those who did switch providers, nearly a quarter (24%) said that contacting their current provider to make the switch resulted in “unwanted” sales pitches to stay.
Customers will only be able to contact the new provider under the new system. They will then receive correspondence from their old company informing them of any outstanding amounts owed, and they will be able to tell their new company to proceed if they are happy to do so.
Which?, a consumer rights organisation, said the announcement was welcome but that it needed to be implemented as soon as possible.
“The coronavirus crisis has made consumers more reliant on a good broadband connection than they’ve ever been,” said Rocio Concha, the group’s policy director.
She also advised customers not to wait until the new rules take effect before switching, claiming that it can save them up to £143 per year and provide them with better service.
Site for price comparison and switching According to USwitch, the move is “another important stepping stone” toward getting people to upgrade to faster fibre broadband.
“This solution will help future-proof broadband switching and provide consumers with much-needed peace of mind when it comes to getting a better connection,” said Richard Neudegg, the company’s regulatory expert.
“Making things easier for consumers will become increasingly important in the future as more homes gain access to gigabit-capable connections from a broader range of infrastructure providers, allowing consumers to seamlessly transition to next-generation services.”