Easier broadband switching encourages more people to change provider

Optical fiber
(Image credit: Pixabay)

Ofcom rules that simplify the process of changing broadband provider are having an impact on the industry, with more than 800,000 people making a switch for the first time during the past year.

Measures introduced by the regulator in 2015 mean consumers that want to move between suppliers that both use the Openreach copper network only need to contact their new provider who will then handle the switch.

And since 2020, operators are obligated to notify customers when their contract is coming to an end so they can shop around a benefit from a better deal.

Easy broadband switching

Ofcom’s own statistics have shown that 1.3 million broadband customers have secured a better deal since the notifications were introduced, with the number of households out of contract falling from 8.7 million to 7.4 million.

Meanwhile the average price of a contract fell from £39 in 2019 to £38.19, while average speeds continue to rise.

Separate research from Zen found the number of households that have never changed provider has fallen from 21% to 18%, while a third plan to move within the next 18 months. The new regulations help explain this trend, as does the desire for reliable connectivity during the pandemic.

Many households acknowledge the benefits of shopping around but found the task too daunting or feared they would get an even worse service with another company. According to the study, 63% of people who have switched say the process was much easier than they expected.  

“The appetite for increased bandwidth and bullet proof connectivity is real with households connecting more devices to their home internet connection than ever before,” said Paul Stobart, CEO at Zen. “This has had a significant impact on people’s relationship with both their internet connection and how it works, and in turn, their broadband provider.”

Ofcom’s next step is to apply ‘one touch’ handovers to all providers and technologies – not just companies using Openreach’s copper network - from April 2023.

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.