Switching broadband provider should be 'less hassle' says watchdog - everything you need to know

Are you desperate to change your provider? (Photo: Shutterstock)Are you desperate to change your provider? (Photo: Shutterstock)
Are you desperate to change your provider? (Photo: Shutterstock)

Regulator Ofcom has said that it should be quicker and simpler for those looking to switch their broadband provider.

Under the new rule proposals from Ofcom, the process would be streamlined for consumers as they would not have to contact their current provider in order to switch.

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Ofcom is calling the move the “One Touch Switch”, and aims to make the process of switching easier for customers, and also allow them the opportunity to take advantage of the best deals available.

How would the One Touch Switch work?

Ofcom explains that the process would work as such:

  • First, a customer would contact their chosen new provider and give them their details
  • Next,the customer would then automatically receive important information from their current provider, including details of any early contract termination charges that they would have to pay, and how switching could affect any other services that the customer has with the company
  • If the customer is happy to go ahead with the switch, then the new provider would manage the switching process

This method would also prevent a gap between the old services ending and the new services starting.

Since 2015, the practice has been possible when switching between companies using Openreach networks, such as BT, Sky and TalkTalk - but this has not applied when changing to, or from, firms using different network technologies, such as Virgin Media and Hyperoptic.

‘Make the process as seamless as possible’

Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s networks and communications group director, said: “There are lots of different offers out there from a wide range of broadband and landline providers.

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“And we want to make it even easier for people to get a better deal or upgrade to a faster, more reliable service.

“We know some customers can be put off by the hassle of having to deal with more than one provider when trying to switch.

“So our proposals today aim to make the process as seamless as possible, for everyone.”

When could the One Touch Switch be implemented?

Ofcom will be consulting on the proposals made until 31 March 2021, with the aim to publish its decision in the summer.

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The regulator explains that companies will need to make significant changes to their systems and processes, which will take time.

Ofcom states: “The new rules will come into force in December 2022.”

How to switch provider

In the meantime, this is what you need to know about switching your provider.

Before you do anything else, make sure you can actually leave your current provider - check your current contract and make sure that you’ve completed your minimum term.

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If you’re not sure about whether you can leave or not, it’s best to phone your provider and check. If you’re still under contract, you could be issued a hefty cancellation fee if you decide to cancel your contract early.

If you’ve finished your contract, that means you’re free to leave - and you could even haggle yourself a better deal with your existing provider if you don’t mind staying on.

If you’ve found a different provider you’d like to move to, make sure your postcode is serviced by that company - you can do this by using the USwitch broadband checker.

If you haven’t found a broadband provider yet, and you’re not sure where to start, don’t panic. There are a number of companies out there that can do the legwork for you by finding you the best deal around, such as USwitch, Compare the Market and Which?.

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If you’re switching between providers that use Openreach networks, then your new provider will handle the process of switching for you. However, if you’re switching to, or from, a provider that doesn’t, then you’ll need to handle the process yourself.

You’ll need to reach out to your current provider to stop your service, and then reach out to the new provider to have your service set up.

You’ll receive a notification from your provider that you’re leaving that your contract is ending, and you will then be given a new contract from your new provider which will inform you of when your new contract will begin.