Ofcom plans changes to make switching broadband networks easier
Broadband switching between providers that use the Openreach copper network has been very easy for some time, but with demand for faster services increasing and a lot more full fibre providers in the market now is a good time to take that ease of switching and get it working for all fixed line broadband services.
Ofcom is working with OTA and industry to get processes implemented as part of an EU push for easier broadband switching across Europe. Exactly how this is implemented is down to the regulator in each member state.
On the mobile phone changes a number of mobile operators already sell their phones unlocked, so if people want to swap SIM even during a contract they can and at the end of the contract switching provider is simpler. Worries that this may increase the cost of PAYG phones are tempered by Ofcom saying that the subsidies from phone manufacturers may remain and thus the cost of basic mobiles should not increase dramatically.
Delivering seamless switching between different broadband networks, i.e. over different physical twisted pair, coax or fibre into a property is a difficult job but it reads like the plan is to use the existing gaining provider led (GPL) model and processes within industry will allow providers to contact the losing provider and get the notification to transfer process started. The notification of transfer process is a 10 day window during which someone can respond to a letter to say they want to cancel the move.
The complications with switching networks arise when something goes wrong with running in a new fibre on the day of the install, or weather causes problems e.g. provisioning teams are fixing faults in network. From our quick read it seems likely that the solution will be to accept that there will be some migrations like this and compensation to the consumer would be due.
The one change that will be universally welcomed by consumers is that providers will not be able to bill for days of service beyond the switch over date, ending the annoyance of paying out for a weeks broadband service that you are not going to use.
Hopefully there will remain a pathway for those who want to overlap services, e.g. people who work from home or those wanting to avoid teenage tantrums when the Internet is down for a day or two. Also overlapping while costly is a good way of testing out a new unknown service knowing if you don't like it moving back is absolutely no hassle.
We wonder how long it will be until we see pictures of homes, with Openreach copper socket, Virgin Media coax and two full fibre providers boxes as people chase the best deals and peak time performance.