Insights Ofcom announces investigation into broadband providers failing to implement simpler switching

Ofcom has opened an industry-wide enforcement programme on the failed implementation of Ofcom’s new broadband switching process by some providers.

On 3 April 2023, changes to the General Conditions came into force requiring landline and broadband providers to operate the “One Touch Switch” process for residential customers.

Ofcom announced these rule changes in September 2021 after consultation with industry. The aim of the new rules is to make broadband switching quicker, easier and more reliable for many customers.

Customers can already switch between providers on Openreach’s network, such as BT, Sky and TalkTalk, by following a process where their new provider manages the switch. Ofcom wanted to make it easy for customers moving between different networks or technologies, e.g. from a provider using the Openreach network to one using CityFibre’s, or from Virgin Media to Hyperoptic. Under the new process, these customers would only have to contact their new provider to switch.

The new rules also mean providers must compensate customers if things go wrong with the switch and they are left without a service for more than one working day, and customers should not have to pay any notice-period charges beyond the switch date.

In addition, the reforms were due to make it quicker to switch and ensure customers automatically receive important information from their current provider, including any early termination charges they may have to pay.

Ofcom says that it has been closely monitoring industry’s progress in implementing the changes and has been putting pressure on providers to meet their requirements by the 3 April 2023 deadline. Unfortunately, Ofcom says, the new process has not been introduced on time.

As a result, Ofcom has launched an industry-wide enforcement programme to ensure that the switching process is delivered as soon as possible.

Cristina Luna-Esteban, Ofcom’s Director of Telecoms Consumer Protection, said: “Industry has had plenty of warning, plenty of time and plenty of support to get this done. It’s extremely disappointing and frustrating, and providers have let their customers down. We take compliance with our rules very seriously and have launched enforcement action to make sure companies get this up and running as quickly as possible.” To read Ofcom’s news release in full, click here.