Ofcom proposes new rules to make broadband switching easier

17 December 2019

Ofcom is planning to make it easier for customers to switch between broadband networks.

Currently, customers switching between providers such as BT, Sky and TalkTalk on Openreach’s copper network can already follow a simple process, where their new provider manages the switch.

But this has not been available to customers moving to a different broadband network – such as CityFibre, Gigaclear, Hyperoptic or Virgin Media. These customers need to contact both their existing and new provider to co-ordinate the switch and make sure there is no gap between the old service ending and the new one starting.

Our research shows that more than four in ten people are put off switching because they’re worried about arranging two different services to start and end at the right time. More than a third of people are put off by having to speak to two different companies, and a similar proportion worry about having to pay their old and new provider at the same time.

Under our proposals, switching would be made easier for all broadband customers, whether they are switching between different networks, or a full-fibre service on the same network.

Providers would also have to compensate customers if things go wrong and they are left without a service for more than one working day. And we are proposing to ban notice-period charges beyond the switch date. In July, we banned mobile providers from charging for notice periods running after the switch date. We are now looking to extend this to broadband switching.

Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s Consumer Group Director, said: “Switching broadband provider should be quick, simple and hassle-free.

“Our plans would make it even easier to shop around – putting an end to needless time and effort spent dealing with different broadband companies.”

Today we have also announced plans that would prevent mobile phone companies from selling ‘locked’ handsets, as part of a range of measures that reflect new European rules.

Fairness for Customers logo

Fairness for customers

Ofcom is carrying out a range of work to help people shop around with confidence, make informed choices, switch easily and get a fair deal.

  • From February next year, broadband, phone and pay-TV customers must be told when their contract is coming to an end, and their provider must tell them about the best deals available. People who choose to stay with their provider without signing up to a new contract will be given details of their firm’s best deals every year. All customers who are not within a fixed term contract, like pay-as-you-go and SIM-only customers, will also get these annual notices.
  • Fairer pricing. Following our review of broadband pricing, a number of the UK’s biggest broadband companies have committed to fairer prices for customers whose initial deal has ended.