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One touch switch hitch: new switching process delayed

Unfortunately for customers, the ‘One Touch Switch’ process (OTS) has missed today’s deadline and will not be ready to use for some time.

OTS is a new process that was announced back in September 2021 to help broadband customers switch between broadband providers easier, without the hassle of contacting your existing provider. 

Broadband customers in the UK have a variety of options to choose from and the UK has two main broadband networks - BT Openreach that powers providers such as TalkTalk, Vodafone, Shell, and the Virgin Media network - plus any alternative networks or ‘alt-nets’.

At present, the UK operates on a Gaining Provider Led system, meaning when you purchase a new contract, in most cases your new provider will cancel your old contract and switch your connection over. But this only works when switching between providers on the BT Openreach network.

If you’re switching between Virgin Media and TalkTalk, Plusnet or an alt-net provider, you have to cancel your old contract. If not you could end up paying for two deals.

The OTS process is designed to take out the hassle of talking to your existing provider when switching to streamline the process, allowing customers to swoop on any deal that’s available at their address.

Ofcom has launched an industry-wide enforcement programme into the failed implementation of OTS, with the objective that the new process is delivered to a high standard as quickly as possible, and works effectively for customers.

When reports started that the industry might not be ready for OTS back in January, Ofcom stated “If the deadline is not met and companies are not complying with our rules when they come into effect, we will decide what action is appropriate to take.” The question now is, what findings Ofcom will report and how much slack do they want to cut providers who have had 18 months to prepare for today.

It’s been reported that The One Touch Switching Company (TOSCo) has partnered with Tech Mahindra, to conclude a contract for the design and build of the TOTSCo Hub. However, the hub is an essential part of the OTS process and it just shows how far away we are from seeing the process being delivered.

For now, we advise customers to follow best practices when switching providers and to inform your current provider when you plan to exit your contract. For information, read our guide about how to switch broadband providers.

Alex Tofts, broadband expert at Broadband Genie comments:

"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.

“One Touch Switch should drag the process of changing your internet supplier out of the dark ages, making it as easy to move to a different broadband network as it is to change bank or mobile provider.

“This is desperately needed as concerns about the hassle of switching are one of the main reasons customers stay with the same provider and end up overpaying year after year. Our research found a quarter of households keep on the same broadband deal for at least five years without attempting to move — or even haggle — as they slowly spend more but get less.

“While we welcome Ofcom’s decision to investigate what has gone wrong and launch enforcement action in the wake of today’s missed deadline, it feels like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. 

“Concerns about One Touch Switch have been circulating in the industry for months and the regulator should have been far more proactive and communicated better with providers and the public. By not ironing out these overly complicated switching processes sooner it is failing broadband consumers. We are asking Ofcom to work with providers to get their house in order and set a new realistic start date as soon as possible.”

Meet the author:

Broadband Expert

Alex came on board in October 2016 and in that time has risen to Broadband Genie’s resident broadband expert. For the last 7 years, he has appeared all over the UK press, giving expert advice about anything and everything related to broadband.

Specialist subject: Fighting the consumer's corner on all things broadband.

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