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New UK broadband rules will make it easier to switch supplier

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The UK media regulator, Ofcom, has introduced a new service to make it easier for customers to switch broadband supplier to get a better deal.

Ofcom hopes that the new process, One Touch Switch, will encourage people to seek out better deals after research found that more than two-fifths of people were put off switching broadband suppliers because of the hassle.

People can already switch between providers that use Openreach’s broadband network – such as BT, Sky and TalkTalk – through a process requiring a customer only to contact their new supplier.

However, until now customers hoping to change networks or technologies – such as between Virgin Media’s network and a provider on Openreach or other smaller networks such as Hyperoptic or CityFibre – had to deal with both the new and old supplier simultaneously.

Ofcom’s research found that a quarter of customers making such a switch faced attempts by their provider to stop them. The One Touch Switch process is aimed at eliminating these issues, including customers having to sort out the end and start dates of their old and new services.

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“Household finances are strained at the moment, so switching broadband provider could help keep your bills down,” said Lindsey Fussell, the network and communications group director at Ofcom. “We’re making it as easy as possible for you to break up with your broadband provider and take advantage of the deals on offer.”

Ofcom said the new rules would also mean that suppliers would have to compensate customers if they are left without internet for more than one working day during a switch. All suppliers must introduce Ofcom’s new simplified switching process by April 2023.

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BT said Ofcom’s new rules don’t go far enough and should be extended to the millions of customers who have their broadband as part of a package tied to a Pay-TV subscription through companies such as Sky and Virgin Media.

“We want to make switching broadband providers as simple as possible for consumers, regardless of which network they are on,” said a spokesperson for BT. “By allowing customers to only have to notify their new provider, we believe this process will do just that. We also want the new process to extend to switching Pay-TV providers, so that the benefits of seamless switching are not undermined for those who take a ‘triple play’ bundle of voice, broadband and pay TV.”

The regulator has introduced a range of measures in recent years to make sure customers have access to the best deals. These include cracking down on the so-called loyalty penalty by which customers who stick with their broadband, mobile or pay-TV supplier are not offered the same discount deals as new customers.