Well-functioning communications markets require effective switching processes. The ability to switch Communications Providers (‘CPs’) allows consumers to exercise choice, purchase the service or combination of services which best meet their needs, and switch away if they are dissatisfied with a provider. Conversely, ineffective processes constrain consumer choice, and hence can also be harmful to competition, investment and market entry.
Ofcom has a principal duty to further the interests of consumers in relevant markets, where appropriate by promoting competition. The interests of consumers in relation to switching processes mainly concern their experience of switching, including the ability to switch quickly and conveniently, to switch without loss of service, to be made aware of the implication of their decision to switch and to be protected from being switched against their will. In this process we are therefore primarily concerned with issues directly affecting consumers, but we also consider implications for competition.
We have looked at the processes used for switching between providers on the Openreach copper network(-1-). Currently there are a number of different processes for switching services, involving complex technical coordination amongst gaining providers, losing providers and Openreach. To a large extent, these systems have evolved within industry, with some aspects subject to regulation under Ofcom’s General Conditions (‘GCs’).
We have prioritised our work on the Openreach copper network as we identified this as the area of greatest potential consumer harm and because it supports the largest number of switches for fixed voice and broadband services.
It has been brought to our attention that in the main document and Annex 1 published on 8th August we stated that the deadline for responses was the 2nd October. However, in the notification on changes to general conditions we stated the deadline for sending representations about the proposals was the 4th October. Please note we will accept consultation responses until 5pm on 4th October. We have updated the consultation document to reflect this change.