Switching broadband providers should now be a lot easier after Ofcom introduced new rules that require internet service providers (ISPs) using BT's Openreach network to do the admin required to move from one firm to another.
Ofcom had said that the current system for transferring broadband providers is unnecessarily complex and confusing, and too much effort is required by customers to pass information between suppliers when looking to move.
This relates primarily to needing a Migration Authorisation Code from the first provider and then giving it to the second.
Under the new rules that came into force on 20 June, it will be the responsibility of the company the customer is joining to get this code and make the switch.
Easier broadband switching from tomorrow http://t.co/9tA0szBmZH— Ofcom (@Ofcom) June 19, 2015
Telecoms firms will also be required to keep records of the consent they receive from customers in order to prevent ‘slamming’, where customers are switched without their knowledge or consent.
However, customers who are in a contract with one provider and hoping to move will still face hefty leaving fees, usually the remaining cost of the contract, if they wish to move.
The changes are a clear statement of intent from newly installed Ofcom chief executive Sharon White to get telecoms firms to take more responsibility for making sure consumers are able to switch companies quickly and easily.
“The new process puts the responsibility for the switching process in the hands of the provider the customer is joining,” she said.
“This will make a real difference for consumers, and will encourage more people to take advantage of very strong competition in the landline and broadband markets.”
BT said that the company is already working on making it as easy as possible for ISPs on the Openreach network to switch customers across services.
“BT has been working hard with Ofcom and other companies to ensure that Ofcom’s proposals are implemented effectively to enable smooth switching between providers on Openreach’s network,” the firm said.
TalkTalk welcomed the changes, but added that the current market mergers and price structures will still mean that consumers are paying over the odds for broadband.
"Switching only benefits consumers when markets are competitive. With a wave of consolidation threatening to undermine consumer choice and inflate prices, TalkTalk will continue to call for a competitive market that puts the interests of consumers first," the operator said.
V3 contacted Sky and EE for comment on the new rules but had received no reply at the time of publication.
The ability to switch providers more easily will be welcomed by millions of customers who suffer from slower than promised broadband speeds, as outlined by a report from consumer group Which? published this week.
Ofcom said it is also considering how to make it easier for mobile phone customers to change provider.
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