Ofcom targets simplified switching between UK operators

Ofcom has opened a consultation period to determine the future of internet and mobile switching for customers in the UK.

Tim Skinner

August 1, 2016

2 Min Read
Bad Customer experience

Ofcom has opened a consultation period to determine the future of internet and mobile switching for customers in the UK.

In what could be considered a retroactive approach to switching, regulations at present require all customers to discuss cancellation with their existing provider over the phone before being able to switch to another telco. With telcos exploring new digital channels for customer engagement, such as WebRTC and A2P messaging, conducting cancellation over the phone is something of an outdated practice.

Ofcom, however, wants this to change. Its set of proposals highlights two alternatives to current switching methods, based on research it conducted into consumer experiences of switching providers. The regulator said 81% of people who switched found it very or fairly easy – although 79% of the same user-base admitted they did encounter some kind of difficulty during the process. These problems included cancelling their previous service (38%), with 17% saying they lost service for a week or more during the switching process – which Ofcom says is an unwanted loss of service. Finally, 22% said they ended up paying twice for overlapping services while switching.

With that in mind, Ofcom has recommended two new formats for switching between providers operating on the Openreach, KCOM, Virgin Media cable and Sky satellite networks. The “preferred option” is what Ofcom is calling a one-stop process for switching, which places responsibility for the coordination of the switch entirely in the hands of a customers’ new provider, which would then organise everything with the existing provider. The alternative option is to keep responsibility for switching in the consumers’ hands, dealing with their existing provider. The difference will be in opening up the number of channels and the variety of ways in which customers can confirm their cancellation – which could be through a standard web-based interface as part of existing online account management functions, or through webchat.

“People should be able to switch easily to take advantage of the best deals in the market,” said Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s Consumer Group Director. “We’ve already improved the switching experience for millions of landline and broadband customers. Now we’re consulting on making it easier and more reliable for telecoms and TV customers to switch between different networks – including when their services are bundled on to one bill.”

With churn being such a revenue-damaging factor for most major telcos, enforcing a system of convoluted telephony systems could be seen as one method used to try and deter customers from switching. Ofcom is accepting feedback on the options until 21st October 2016, and any direction could be enforced by the summer 2017.

About the Author(s)

Tim Skinner

Tim is the features editor at Telecoms.com, focusing on the latest activity within the telecoms and technology industries – delivering dry and irreverent yet informative news and analysis features.

Tim is also host of weekly podcast A Week In Wireless, where the editorial team from Telecoms.com and their industry mates get together every now and then and have a giggle about what’s going on in the industry.

Get the latest news straight to your inbox.
Register for the Telecoms.com newsletter here.

You May Also Like