Uswitch: Ofcom’s missed ‘One Touch Switch’ deadline costs Brits £1.85B

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Uswitch claims that Ofcom’s failure to enforce its ‘One Touch Switch’ deadline will cost 11 million broadband customers in the UK a total of £1.85 billion per year in overpayments.

The research was released on the same day that Ofcom’s One Touch Switch, a new broadband standard designed to make switching providers easier, was due to come into effect. Earlier this month, Telecoms reported that the deadline was likely to be missed.

Ernest Doku, Telecoms Expert at Uswitch, comments:

“With inflation-linked price hikes hitting millions of people this month, the delay to One Touch Switch is a missed opportunity for Ofcom to boost broadband customers’ confidence and help them get a good deal.

Almost half of broadband customers want to switch right now, but many will miss out due to unfounded concerns and a lack of clarity about the switching process.

All of these concerns would have been addressed if One Touch Switch had launched as scheduled.”

Uswitch estimates Ofcom’s failure to enforce its deadline will mean that households will miss out on potential savings of up to £162 per year. 

One Touch Switch is designed to make the process of switching providers easier and quicker for consumers, allowing them to move to a cheaper deal, a faster package, or change their broadband service if they are unhappy.

The new process will also allow switching between physically separate networks, such as from Openreach to Virgin Media, Hyperoptic, or CityFibre, to be completed seamlessly, enabling consumers to take advantage of more competitive deals. According to Ofcom, the new process should take only a day to complete. 

However, many broadband customers are put off switching providers due to fears of being cut off, confrontational sales calls, or concerns about being charged twice. Yet, in reality, these concerns are largely unfounded. The new provider will do most of the work, including cancelling a customer’s current contract and start dates for a new broadband contract can be scheduled up to a month in advance to avoid being charged twice.

Despite these concerns, many customers feel they would benefit from switching broadband providers. A third of those surveyed (30%) believe their broadband isn’t as fast as it should be, and a fifth (19%) reported they were unsatisfied with broadband dropouts and reliability.

One Touch Switch aims to make switching broadband as simple as changing banks or mobile provider already is. Uswitch calls on Ofcom to set a new deadline to make sure the rollout of One Touch Switch goes ahead as soon as possible. 

“If Ofcom is serious about supporting consumers, as well as driving take-up of new full-fibre networks, there needs to be closer supervision of implementation programmes like this, as well as tougher consequences for providers if deadlines are missed,” adds Doku.

“Switching broadband providers can save the average household £162 a year. Ofcom cannot allow for further delays at the expense of customers, especially given the current challenges to household budgets.”

Broadband is a necessity for the majority of households across the UK, with consumers relying on it for streaming TV, music, and movies, working from home, and accessing vital information. 

Four in ten people (38%) said they would have less choice of entertainment if they were without broadband for one to two days. A quarter (24%) reported that they wouldn’t be able to do their job when working from home. Other concerns included struggling to stay in touch with friends and family, not being able to manage household finances, and losing access to important and up-to-date information.

According to the most recent Uswitch customer satisfaction survey, the most common reasons for switching broadband are price and price rises, internet speed, reliability, and customer service.

Alex Tofts, broadband expert at Broadband Genie, comments on today’s missed One Touch Switch deadline:

“This is an absolute shambles at a time when millions of households are seeing the biggest-ever rise to their broadband bills.

Despite plans for the system being unveiled back in autumn 2021, 18 months on Ofcom and providers are pointing the finger at each other and there’s no new start date in place.”

Generally, customers should prepare for a switch to a new service to take around two weeks. However, that doesn’t mean that customers will be offline for two weeks while the switch is prepared. Downtime is often only around 30 minutes while the switch actually takes place on the scheduled day.

“Ofcom seems happy to leave broadband customers in the dark on today’s missed deadline. It is failing them by not ironing out overly complicated switching processes,” adds Tofts.

“We are asking them to work with providers to get their house in order and set a new realistic start date as soon as possible.”

UK broadband customers can use Uswitch’s comparison service to ensure they are on the best deal for their needs.

(Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash)

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