/ Technology

Ofcom: making it easier to switch broadband provider

In this guest post, Ofcom’s director of consumer policy, Chris Taylor, explains a change that aims to make it easier for you to switch your broadband provider.

I’m sure many of you will have shopped around for a better deal at one time or another.

Maybe you’ve changed bank account or home insurance, or perhaps you’re one of the thousands who’ve used Which? Switch to save money on your energy bills.

You should be able to switch provider easily

So I know I’m preaching to the converted when I stress how important it is that customers can quickly and easily switch between providers. You should be able to switch when you want, without any great problems or worry. It’s also important for competition.

If providers know their customers can up and leave if they’re not satisfied, they’re more likely to offer better service and more competitive deals.

But when we looked at broadband and landline switching we realised more needed to be done to help you.

Not only were there a number of different switching processes – which could be confusing and daunting –  but  often customers were put off by the hassle of having to liaise between their old and new providers.

Now that’s all changing.

How is it now easier to switch broadband provider?

From yesterday, changing landline and broadband between providers who use the Openreach network – such as BT, EE Sky and TalkTalk – will become much simpler and smoother.

A new one-touch process will place the responsibility for the switch entirely in the hands of the company you’re moving to.

You’ll just need to contact the provider you wish to move to and they’ll handle the switch for you – you won’t even need to cancel your contract with your old provider as you do currently.

Once you’ve started the switching process, both your new provider and the one you’re leaving will send you a letter to inform you of the switch including a reasonable estimate of the date it will happen.

If you change your mind, just contact your new provider to cancel your request to switch.

We believe these changes will allow customers and businesses to change provider with much greater ease, confidence and convenience.

For more information on switching broadband provider, you can visit the Ofcom website.

Which? Conversation provides guest spots to external contributors. This is from Chris Taylor at Ofcom. All opinions expressed here are Chris’s own, not necessarily those of Which?

Comments
Member

One of the problems with switching internet service provider is that you are likely to lose access to email if you are using your ISPs email service. The majority of people seem to avoid using their ISPs email account, but the disadvantage is that free email providers such as Gmail seem to be far more prone to hacking. I know plenty of people who use their ISPs email and they rarely have a problem.

If you move house you can pay to have your mail redirected for a fee. Why not email? It should not cost much to forward email if you switch to another provider.

Member

I think the point you raise wavechange is extremely valid. losing one’s e-mail address is probably the most significant problem.

Whilst using Google you must always be conscious that it is being scanned and evaluated either for advertising or security purposes. I have absolutely no problem with security screening but would wish it to be done by a EU based company.

One I started my e-mail account it was at the start of the Virgin empire in the last century. It is now part of a US based conglomerate and all e-mails are run through Google.

I am rather tied by the fact of several hundreds of firms and peoples with my original e-mail address and an on -line archive of over 150,000 emails. I suspect I will have to make the move to an EU based ISP.

The problem remains though that at any time my ISP may become the off-shoot of an Amercian company subject to all the snooping that the NSA does. This is currently causing Microsoft difficulties with its cloud offering for major business. Not unnaturally most big firms do not want their internal documents snooped on.

Who provides the e-mail service for Which On-line or is it in house?

From the OfCom point of view some clear guidance on e-mail addresses and what might be retained would be grand.

Member

At work our IT department wanted to change our email addresses for a valid reason. My email address appeared on scientific papers so I insisted that emails to the old addresses were forwarded to the new address and that was maintained for at least five years. It helped me and my colleagues.

Hundreds of people and organisations have my email address, irrespective of whether there has been any email communication. I know my present ISP will not forward email if I move to another provider, so I now provide an alternative email address if a person or organisation may need to contact me at some time in the future.

The general recommendation to pay for your own domain and use an associated email account, which gives independence and helps avoid the risk of hacking, generally targeted at the large free services.

Member

Morning Diesel & wavechange – I can add that the Which.net email service is provided in-house. 🙂

Member

The process could not be described as good, but neither was it as bad as I many have reported

It took 8 days and several e-mails and phone messages to prise my MAC i.d. from Talk Talk, and the progress with the new provider Plus Net took a further three weeks. Once I had this however, PlusNet had a competent process to keep me advised of progress, and since the changeover over a year ago, the new provider has provided an exemplary service.

Member

One disadvantage of the new switching system is the risk of getting slammed – i.e. your broadband connection being changed without your permission or maliciously.
With the fast timescale it could all happen while away on a 2 week holiday and you wouldnt know anything about it !
Look what happened in the energy and telephone market.
At least 1 ISP is so concerned that they are allowing customers to place a flag on their account to prevent the broadband supply being moved unless the customer contacts themselves and removes the stop flag.

Member

Slamming is an issue which we take very seriously issue and tackling all forms of telecoms mis-selling (including slamming) remains one of our highest priorities. To this end, we have established robust rules which explicitly prohibit all telephone companies from engaging in inappropriate sales and marketing activity. We have an industry-wide monitoring and enforcement programme through we actively monitor compliance with these rules- through complaints to Ofcom and industry complaints. Where we identify clear breaches of the rules, we can take enforcement action, and have powers to fine companies up to 10 per cent of relevant turnover and require them to remedy the consequences of any breach, for example, through repayment of monies to affected consumers.

Member
Brian darvell says:
23 June 2015

I challenge ofcom to sort out why people in hull and parts of the East riding of Yorkshire have no choice except Kingston Communications.Also I challenge that this latest wheeze of Ofcom is mere wallpaper to boost their credibility.We want choice Ofcom but you are strangely reticent on the subject of KC.