Is your broadband connection meeting your needs? We’d like to hear your experiences of the switching process and how it could be improved.
Consumers across the UK have access to a wide range of broadband providers and an ever-expanding range of packages within the broadband market. As a result, it is important for consumers to engage with the market regularly to ensure that they have access to a broadband connection that meets their needs.
However, switching broadband provider often is perceived as a daunting task.
Which? plans to respond to Ofcom’s consultation on proposals to change the process that residential landline and broadband customers use to switch. If agreed, these changes will come into effect from December 2022.
We’d like to hear your experiences of the current switching process and how you think it could be improved to feed into our response to Ofcom.
Why should you switch?
Customers who don’t take out a new contract with their current provider, or shop around when their contract comes to an end, tend to end up paying more. Ofcom, the UK’s telecoms regulator, found that out of contract broadband customers pay about £4.70 more per month than their provider’s average price for their service.
We think that a key reason why consumers don’t seek out better broadband deals can be due to the complexity of the switching process itself. This can be a particular issue if you’re a customer trying to move to or from an Openreach provider e.g. BT or Sky to Virgin Media, or moving onto gigabit-capable networks.
In these cases, consumers generally have to coordinate the switch themselves by contacting both losing and gaining providers, arrange a suitable day and make sure that the dates of start and finish of the new service align (or risk losing their service for a few days).
Ofcom’s switching plans
To address this, Ofcom is looking at measures to make switching quicker, easier and more reliable. It believes that this will allow people to shop around with confidence to find the best price and service for their needs.
Last month, it published a consultation setting out its proposals for a new process that residential landline and broadband customers will use to switch from December 2022 regardless of their provider, the technology or the network they use.
Ofcom sets out two potential approaches in its consultation.
Its preferred approach is a ‘One Touch Switch’ system. This new system would mean that customers would only need to contact their new provider, who would arrange and manage the switch on their behalf.
While the process already applies for consumers switching on the Openreach Network, such as BT and Sky customers, the new proposals will also cover consumers switching from different networks (like from Virgin Media to Openreach) as well as to or from full-fibre broadband services.
Ofcom also sets out a second option, which it is not minded to take forward. This is a code-to-switch system, whereby consumers will have to contact their losing provider for a switching code, then they will contact the new provider and give them the switching code.
This is similar to the current switching process in place for mobile.
We think that Ofcom’s preferred approach of ‘one touch switch’ is the right option to make the switching process as easy as possible for consumers.
This option is simpler as it removes the additional steps that people can sometimes face – only requiring them to contact the new provider – so it should be quicker and easier for people to switch. It will also remove the risk of losing your connection when switching.
Your switching experiences
We’d like to hear your experiences of the current switching process.
What was your experience when changing broadband provider? Have you experienced any delays, loss of service or just felt that the current system was too complex? Do you have any thoughts on Ofcom’s new proposals?
We plan to use your comments in our response to Ofcom’s consultation to help influence them to adopt this new process.