Broadband and home phone switching made easier
It will be easier for consumers to switch landline and broadband providers under new measures announced by the communications regulator.
The new plans from Ofcom will see a new single switching process, where the new provider leads the transfer process; instead of the current system, which is led by the existing provider.
Claudio Pollack, Ofcom's consumer group director, said: "The move towards one clear and simple system led by the gaining provider will result in a switching process that works in consumers' best interests. We will be working on further measures to improve consumers' experience of switching."
Ofcom described the current process for switching broadband and landlines as causing "confusion", and leads many consumers to believe that switching is difficult. Moreover, under current rules the existing provider has too much control, and has the incentive to delay or disrupt the transfer, the regulator added.
The new plans, which are expected to be introduced by early 2015, will make providers keep a record of a customer's consent to switch, protecting them from being transferred to a different provider without consent - a practice known as 'slamming'.
Providers will have to ensure consumers do not lose service when switching, or have their lines switched when moving house. The regulator also said the provider must give consumers more information on the implications of switching, such as early termination charges.
Ofcom says in the future it may consider reviewing the way consumers switch pay TV and mobile phone contracts.
Plans backed by consumer groups
Gillian Guy, Citizens Advice chief executive, said: "Some people will have been paying over the odds for their broadband and landline services because the switching process has been too cumbersome and complicated; putting them off shopping around for a cheaper price."
She called for Ofcom to extend the new switching system to mobile phone and cable services.
Marie-Louise Abretti, broadband expert at uSwitch, said: "This announcement is a long overdue victory for consumers and common sense. Our only concern is how long it may take for consumers to benefit from the proposals."