Telecoms regulator Ofcom today announced new plans intended to boost competition for superfast broadband. This will include plans to make it easier for consumers to switch between providers, as well as implementing separate measures to speed up installation and repair times.
The plans have been announced as part of a "major review of wholesale telecoms services”. It’s thought that under new proposals for consultation, the wholesale cost of switching supplier would fall by around 80%.
Minimum contracts would also be affected, with suppliers no longer having to sign up to BT for a year, reducing the contracted time to just a month. This, Ofcom believe , will promote competition within the industry, which is expected in turn to benefit consumers by lowering retail prices and allow easier switching.
At the moment, for every consumer who wants to change to a superfast provider, BT wholesale customers must pay a £50 fee. However, under the new proposals, this would be lowered to between £10-15. For existing superfast consumers who switch, it will be required that the minimum contract length should be shortened to one month. It’s thought that this will allow suppliers to offer shorter term contract.
As well as the aforementioned measures, Ofcom also want Openreach to speed up the time it takes them to complete installations and repairs. During 2012 many suppliers expressed concern that Openreach were taking too long to complete work, with some of the blame placed on last year’s bad weather.
As a part of this, Ofcom proposes to introduce measures to boost reporting requirements on Openreach. The standard of care given to BT retail customers will also be measured compared to wholesale customers.
"Ofcom will later this month issue a further consultation on its approach for setting any future charge controls on ‘wholesale line rental’ products – which allow competing providers to offer a telephone service over BT’s network – and ‘local loop unbundling’ products, where providers install their own equipment in an exchange to offer telephony and broadband over BT’s lines,” Ofcom said in a statement.
The consultation will remain open until the 25 September 2013 and conclusions will apply for the period between April 2014 and March 2017.