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Making it easier to change telecoms provider

9th February 2012 Print

Ofcom have proposed a set of measures to make changing broadband and landline providers simpler and more reliable, while protecting consumers from being switched without their knowledge or consent.

Enabling consumers to switch providers easily is important to ensure they can choose the broadband or telephone service that best suits their needs. But Ofcom's research shows that consumers can face a number of problems when changing their service provider.

Ofcom analysis shows that one in five consumers switching their broadband lost their service for about a week. And approximately 130,000 households have faced problems with the wrong telephone line being taken over during the switching process or when moving house during a twelve month period.

An estimated 520,000 households had their landline or broadband services ‘slammed' (switched without their consent) in the last year.

Ofcom has proposed a number of options to help consumers change supplier.

Ofcom's preferred option is a process where the new provider would manage the switching process, including the transfer of services from the old provider. To guard against slamming, the switch would be checked and verified by an independent third party.

Delivering benefits for consumers

Ofcom's proposals are designed to benefit consumers in a number of ways by:

ensuring that switches are verified by an independent third party to protect consumers from slamming;

simplifying the process so that consumers are not confused by different methods of switching;

ensuring that all providers can compete so consumers can continue to benefit from innovation, choice and value for money;

addressing technical problems when switches take place, which currently can lead to the wrong line being switched and consumers losing service;

ensuring that consumers have accurate information on the implications of switching so that they can make informed decisions on whether to change providers; and

simplifying the switching process so consumers do not have to contact  different providers when moving to a bundle.

Ofcom Chief Executive, Ed Richards said: "Smooth switching processes are essential to ensure that consumers can change providers with confidence. Many people think that the current systems are too difficult and unreliable which is why we have made it one of our priorities to tackle this problem.

"Ofcom has improved consumer information on broadband speeds and enhanced competition in the market but it is also essential that people are able to switch easily to exercise their choice. Today's proposals are designed to make the process easier, more reliable and safe from slamming. We believe that the proposals would improve consumers' experience of switching and ensure that they continue to benefit from competition."