Ofcom Chief Executive challenges industry to deliver on switching
September 16, 2013
Ed Richards, Chief Executive of Ofcom, today called on industry to work with Ofcom to make it simpler for consumers to change communications providers.
Mr Richards delivered an address at Consumers and Citizens in the Communications Sector, an event1 hosted by Ofcom and the Communications Consumer Panel. He raised concern that, despite the UK having one of the most competitive communications markets in the world, consumers cannot take full advantage of the choice available due to difficulties with changing provider.
In his speech, Mr Richards called on industry “to transform switching; to remove the inconvenience, delays and uncertainty that currently can bedevil consumers when trying to change their provider”. He also challenged providers to help deliver “a system that enables consumers to take advantage of the increasing competition and innovation available”.
The speech follows Ofcom’s announcement in August of new measures to help consumers change landline and broadband providers with greater ease, confidence and convenience. Ofcom’s decision means that complex switching processes currently in operation on BT’s Openreach network will be simplified to a single process where the ‘gaining’ provider leads the transfer on behalf of the consumer.
Mr Richards described this initial phase of work to improve the switching experience for consumers as “a step in the right direction”, but called for further action from industry to work with Ofcom “to remove the remaining barriers to switching”. He said this should include looking at issues for consumers switching between bundles, and between different networks.
Reflecting on Ofcom’s evidence which indicates that gaining providers are better placed and incentivised to manage a switch, Mr Richards also highlighted support from the UK Government2 and the European Commission3 for gaining provider led processes.
The speech also recognised the benefits delivered to consumers by the highly competitive nature of the UK communications market with choice of services, market innovations and reduced prices all amounting to a positive contribution to living standards in the UK.
Mr Richards concluded by saying that removing the remaining barriers to switching is essential in ensuring that the communications sector “continues to deliver real improvement in value for money during a time when the cost of living is so important for millions of people across the UK and Europe”.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
- The Consumers and Citizens in the Communications Sector conference took place on Monday 16 September at 2pm at Riverside House. The event gathered representatives from industry and consumer stakeholders to discuss issues facing citizens and consumers in communications markets. The event was chaired by Communications Consumer Panel Chair, Jo Connell, and, in addition to a keynote speech by Ofcom’s Chief Executive Ed Richards, featured expert commentary from Peter Eberl (Deputy Head of Unit, DG Connect, European Commission), Mairi Macleod (Communications Consumer Panel Member), Mike Dixon (Assistant CEO at Citizen’s Advice), Lord Inglewood (Chair of the Lords Communications Committee), Pamela Learmonth (CEO at the Broadband Stakeholder Group), Tom Savigar (Chief Strategic Officer at the Future Laboratory) and Dr Damian Tambini (Senior Lecturer at the London School of Economics).
- DCMS Policy Paper: Connectivity, content and consumers: Britain’s digital platform for growth
- Proposal for a REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL laying down measures to complete the European single market for electronic communications and to achieve a Connected Continent, and amending Directives 2002/20/EC, 2002/21/EC and 2002/22/EC and Regulations (EC) No 1211/2009 and (EU) No 531/2012