In or out broadband customers will find where they stand now price wise
New Ofcom rules come into play for broadband customers on 15th February 2020 and so people will very quickly start to get a text, email or letter when there is just 10 to 40 days left to run on their current contract, and for all those that are out of contract as of today they should get notification to remind them.
The notification communications will tell you what date your contract is set to end (don't panic as broadband contracts don't stop, they simply carry on so long as your payment method keeps working) and what you are paying today, the length of any notice period you need to give (invariably 30 days notice, but initiating a migration is sufficient generally) and finally the best deal your provider can offer you (note if you take this deal it will usually involve a new minimum term and may also include upgrades or other changes) and finally so you can judge how much the provider rewards or does not reward loyal customers the price that new customers pay.
These out of contract notifications also apply to the pay TV, mobile and phone customers.
The reasoning behind the new notifications is to reduce the amout of money people are spending on out of contract broadband plans e.g. lots of Sky FTTC customers will have joined paying £27/m for 18 months and thereafter be paying £43.99/m. Old BT ADSL2+ customers might have joined at around £26.99/m and now be paying £45 to £47/m on old deals - interestingly ahead of these changes BT has been dropping its standard pricing, so that ADSL2+ out of contract price for people joining in 2020 has been just £34.99/m.
Therefore the idea is that if providers continue to try and over charge long term customers that people who have not been aware of better options will suddenly spend a few minutes searching for better deals with other providers and therefore the broadband switching market will be more vibrant.
There are some caveats to all this though, the prices in the communications do not need to take into account free gifts or reward cards, so new customers being able to claim a 4K TV with a value around £300 or Xbox bundles or prepaid MasterCard rewards. An additional variation is those who use cashback sites in addition to the various gifts, though customers using cashback sites are a lot more likely to remember when their contract ends and to chase the next best deal. Another variation is that sites with affiliate deals can often have prices that are lower than going direct to a providers own website.
One worry we do have is that many customers who are disengaged with the broadband market will also be those wary of migrating their broadband (even though if staying on the same type of broadband technology a migration should just be a small outage of 30 minutes to an hour as you plug in the new providers hardware) and therefore just accept the offer in the letter and thus be forever locked into a minimum term contract, which in some cases may be 24 months long. Another worry is using the letters to upsell services that while they may be useful and worth the money for some but with basic marketing techniques will also be bought by others who will never get the extra value from the service.
Lots of people stuck in contracts but paying less than today is not a bad thing, unless we are entering a period of rapid change. Guess what the UK broadband market place is in the middle of a few years of big change with the full fibre roll-outs and while the big providers are now all going to start to sell Openreach full fibre there are competing providers wanting to attract customers away from the incumbents network onto competing infrastructures.
Of course we can voice our worries, but it will take a good many months to get a feel for what the various providers are actually offering customers and what the public response is. The difficult part as always is spotting the actual trend rather just the edge cases. The traditional media take on all of this will of course focus on the edge cases as these make for the best headlines and that need for eye grabbing headlines applies even more so for websites.