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Tackling switching issues high on the agenda for Ofcom

Friday, December 4th 2015 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Ofcom will continue to look at ways to make it easier for consumers to switch broadband, TV and phone providers as it moves into the next financial year.

The telecoms regulator has outlined its programme of work for 2016/17, which includes identifying and addressing barriers to switching.

It will consider whether there is a need to improve the switching processes for mobile deals and for ‘triple play’ landline, TV and broadband packages.

It will also monitor prices increases as the past year has seen “significant” rises in standard tariff prices from some providers.

“To enable effective competition and promote consumer choice, information about the quality, availability and price of communications services is vital,” Ofcom said in a statement.

“Ofcom will provide more detailed information on mobile broadband coverage, fixed broadband speeds and quality of service, and examine how Ofcom’s mobile coverage maps can be enhanced to reflect the quality of mobile data and 4G voice coverage.

“In order to benefit from choice, it is essential that consumers can move easily between providers.”

Ofcom said “targeted interventions” could be made where competition alone cannot deliver the best results for consumers.

It is supporting the government’s plan to give every home and business in the UK the legal right to request a broadband connection of 10Mbps by the end of the current Parliament.

Ofcom is also continuing to monitor the quality of service provided by Openreach and has consulted on adding to its existing rules around quality of service for consumer lines.

It also proposed setting new targets to ensure that high-speed business lines are installed and repaired within an acceptable timeframe.

'Particular challenges'

“Good quality communications services are critical to consumer experiences, citizen participation and the success of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

“Ensuring postal, mobile and broadband services in rural communities can present particular challenges.

“Ofcom is addressing these challenges through a number of work areas, including the continuing review of Royal Mail and the information Ofcom collects and publishes on the availability, take-up and use of communications services across the UK.”

Ofcom said it will also continue to work with organisations including the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to reduce the number of nuisance calls affecting UK consumers.

In 2016/17 it will look to implement an agreement between communications providers to introduce technical measures including monitoring and blocking problematic call traffic.

Ofcom is carrying out a consultation on its proposed Annual Plan 2016/17, set to close on 26 February 2016 ahead of the final plan being published in March 2016.

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