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Ofcom says new rules that require broadband operators to notify customers when their contract has almost expired, is leading to better deals for consumers.

Many broadband providers offer introductory offers or a specific tariff over a minimum term period before increasing monthly fees upon expiration. If a customer failed to notice before this point, then they could be left out of pocket.

Ofcom imposed new regulations on the industry in early 2020, requiring operators not just to warn customers in advance that their minimum term was ending but also to provide information on any tariffs that could save them money.

Ofcom broadband affordability

The regulator says contract renewals show consumers are receiving better value for money or a better service as a result. Plusnet saw 13% of customers take out a new deal after receiving an alert, while BT, EE and Virgin Media O2 recorded a 10% takeup rate.

Some consumers have even started paying more for broadband, electing to take out a faster service. This could become more common as fibre coverage extends across the UK.

Overall, the number of broadband customers out of contract fell from 8.7 million (40%) in 2019 to 7.4 million (35%) in 2020.

“It’s encouraging to see more people saving money after we made it easier to grab a better deal,” said James Mackley, Ofcom economics director.

“This is particularly important at a time when household budgets are under heavy strain, as the potential savings available can be significant. So, it’s worth checking if you’re out of contract, and seeing what deals are available.”

Earlier this year Ofcom asked broadband firms to raise awareness of social tariffs and make it easier for those eligible to take out such a service. The regulator wants to ensure that as many people stay connected, even as the cost of living increases.  

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.