Broadband consumers may find the process of switching provider will become considerably easier following a proposal from telecoms watchdog Ofcom that takes aim at delays and red tape.
Ofcom found that one in five consumers lost connection for around a week when switching providers. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that this sort of disruption is going to dissuade a lot of people to put up with their existing provider rather than shop around for a better deal.
The regulator also highlighted the usual provider skills related issues including having the wrong telephone lines switched and having lines switched without their consent. The latter is referred to as ‘slamming’.
Ofcom’s proposals include independent verification of line switching to avoid slamming, simplification of the process of switching including a system which will not require consumers to contact multiple companies when switching service provider.
It seems Ofcom is of a mind to have a new provider manage the switching process. Systems such as these have been used in broadband and mobile services in other countries – typically the customer just needs to provide some sort of port code to a new provider and the dumped provider will just end up sending a bill for any remaining amount.
This could do much for broadband and land line competition but the proposed use of a third-party will likely end up costing, and we rather expect the providers aren’t going to be the ones paying.