/ 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?


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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

It seems KCOM (who own Kingston Communications) do not have a granted monopoly of serving the area but, in practice, are the only provider for residents because the pool of customers is too small to make it attractive to rival providers. There seems also a technical issue in that the wire size is too small for economic ASDL use. I’ve only gleaned this from Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KCOM_Group

expostie says:
23 June 2015

Yes if you are in hull choice is kcom or nothing, yes they are rolling out fibre but at their speed,
I have tried to get a date for fibre in my area but all they say is we have no date and it is a roll out program with no full coverage date !!!

We do not have any choice in Hull..

Brian Darvell says:
23 June 2015

In reply to Malcom,we get bombarded with junk mail constantly from Sky,Virgin,and BT in this area advertising their broadband etc but it is not available,so in fact if you are a Sky customer like I am we only get half a service.The service from Kcom broadband is abysmal and compared to others,EXPENSIVE

I have the same anxiety about switching due to the issue of email after years with the same provider. Wish the regulator would enable the change by forcing ISP’s to offer an email redirection service for a good period (years!) or to offer an email hosting for a small fee (£2 a year or so).

To find an alternative provider is a shopping nightmare.

I am looking for a new broadband service for my son who is moving to a new address. It is impossible to make any comparison in cost due to an array of fabricated special offers, hidden telephone line charges and monthly costs that start low then quadruple suddenly. To me this appears more like a deliberate attempt to mislead rather than aid customers.

Why are ISPs allowed to force users to buy landline telephones and TV service when all they need is Internet access? My son is happy to stick to the basic TV, paid for by his licence. He has a good mobile telephone contract and does not need a landline telephone.

It is no different from forcing a customer to buy a full suit when he only needs a tie.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Hang on a minute... says:
28 June 2015

With all due respect to Mr. Taylor for his article on switching Internet providers, he left out one of the most important aspects of making the switch: CONTRACTS. Your current ISP may charge you outrageous penalties if you change providers before your contract expires. BT is one of the worst, demanding payment for monthly line rental and broadband connection charges through the end of the contract. This can be hundreds of pounds, depending on the number of months on the contract. Also, BT charges £55.00 for “equipment”–meaning the used and now obsolete router it provided initially. Trying to explain to someone in “Customer Services” at BT that there was a window of opportunity this month to change ISPs without penalties has been a nightmare. One BT employee challenged me to provide evidence that the window existed in terms that were insulting and abusive. Only when I managed to speak to a manager were we able to sort things out and I promised a penalty-free release from my 18-month contract. We will see…