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Make broadband switching easier

Last updated: 11:05am 9 October 2018

For broadband customers, we will make broadband switching easier and pricing more transparent.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.78

Our verdict

In June 2015, new regulations came into force which placed the responsibility for changing to a new broadband deal entirely in the hands of the company to which a customer is moving. But this manifesto pledge appears to acknowledge that, despite the 2015 regulatory shift, the process was still not as straightforward as it could have been.

So what has happened under this government that might help make broadband switching easier?

Ofcom gains its powers from the Communications Act 2003 and is the body responsible for overseeing telecommunications. An amendment to Section 51 of the Communications Act which came into force on June 27 2017 authorises Ofcom to “specify requirements in relation to arrangements that enable an end-user to change communications provider on request”. That gives Ofcom greater legal authority to protect customers during the process of switching, and the details of how they do that are laid out at length in Ofcom’s Revised General Conditions, published in September 2017.

However, when looking into switching broadband between different platforms, Ofcom decided on 14 July 2017 that:

“On the basis of the evidence currently available, we no longer consider it proportionate and justified, overall, to pursue reform in this area.”

So whilst there have been changes to protect customers switching providers on the same platform, for those who want to move to a new platform – from Openreach to Sky, for example – Ofcom have decided not to make changes to the switching process.

We’ll consult with other independent bodies to gain greater clarity on whether switching broadband has actually become easier under this government. But for now, in light of these apparently conflicting outcomes, we’re marking this policy as ‘in progress’. Follow this policy for updates.

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