Ditching your broadband for a better deal won't get easier anytime soon as ‘one-touch’ switchover delayed

Ditching your broadband for a better deal won't get easier anytime soon as ‘one-touch’ switchover delayed
Andrew Griffith 151223
Aaron Brown

By Aaron Brown

Published: 18/12/2023

- 10:24

Updated: 18/12/2023

- 11:29

Switching between BT-owned Openreach and full-fibre networks will continue to be a headache for the foreseeable future

  • Ofcom branded the latest delay to the switchover process as "wholly unacceptable"
  • Britons who switch to standalone full-fibre providers have to make their own arrangements
  • The upcoming "one-touch" system will handle all of that behind-the-scenes
  • People choose not to switch to a better deal because of the hassle, Ofcom data shows

Switching from one full-fibre broadband firm to a competitor won’t be getting easier anytime soon.

That’s because the industry-led One Touch Switching Company, known as TOTSCo, has warned that its March 2024 deadline to introduce simple switching is “no longer achievable.”

This is the second major delay to the hassle-free system. Ofcom had originally set a deadline of April 2023 for the new process, which will let you move between broadband providers within 24 hours ...instead of the previous target of 10 days. If you lose internet for more than a day during the switchover, you'll receive compensation.

Switching between broadband companies that rely on infrastructure from BT-owned Openreach, including the likes of EE, BT, Sky, Vodafone, TalkTalk, and Plusnet, has been relatively simple since Ofcom threw its weight behind tough new switchover rules back in 2013.

According to those rules, there’s no need to contact your current supplier to let them know that you’re looking to switch – everything is handled by the new broadband provider when you sign-up for a new deal. You’llalso be compensated if things go awry during the switchover and you’re left without broadband for more than one working day.

The switchover means that you'll be able to ditch your current broadband supplier to lower the costs, unlock faster speeds, bundle internet with paid-for telly and other perks, or swerve terrible customer service — without any concerns about being left without a connection for weeks or evenings spent on the phone to arrange dates for the switch.

Boris Johnson is pictured on a tour of an Openreach facility during the pandemic

​Then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson tours an Openreach facility to learn about the broadband infrastructure network across the UK 


The One Touch Switching Company was created to bring these same rules to all broadband providers in the UK for the first time. Suppliers like Virgin Media, Hyperoptic, Community Fibre, and G.Network to name a few, all own and operate full-fibre networks distinct from Openreach.

Since these separate networks are not covered under the existing rules, switching between an Openreach-powered brand to a standalone fibre network is much more onerous.

You’ll need to contact your current supplier to arrange a date to switch off your current connection and try to organise the installation of your new provider as close to that date as possible.

Unfortunately, if you’re left without internet for days – that’s on you.

Unsurprisingly, the extra admin required to switch to one of these brands puts off some customers. Four in 10 people (41%) in the UK decide against switching because of the headache of having to contact more than one provider, previous Ofcom research has shown.

A similar number (43%) were put off switching because they deemed it too time-consuming. And of those who do switch, almost a quarter (24%) who contact their current provider face unwanted attempts to persuade them to stay.

In a statement about the latest delay to the so-called “one touch” switchover process for all broadband suppliers in the UK, TOTSCo said: “Last week, some larger Communications Providers informed us that there is now insufficient time to complete industry-wide testing and trials before the planned go-live date. Regrettably therefore, we must acknowledge that the 14 March 2024 target is no longer achievable.

“We feel that it is imperative to work to a plan date. We will work with industry to determine a revised date, which we will communicate along with a comprehensive set of frequently asked questions as soon as possible.”

In a statement to internet-centric blog ISPreview, industry regulator Ofcom said: “This further delay is wholly unacceptable. We are demanding answers from BT, [Sky Broadband], TalkTalk and Virgin Media O2 and will not hesitate to use the full force of our enforcement powers on behalf of customers who have been waiting far too long for a simpler way of switching.”

As soon as TOTSCo and Ofcom announce the revised deadline for the introduction of the "one-touch" switchover system, we'll share it with you. When the system does kick-in, for the first time, Britons will be able to change between any broadband provider in the UK and enjoy the same switchover process.

That will include moving between different networks and technologies – for example, from a provider using the Openreach network to one using CityFibre's, or from Virgin Media to Hyperoptic. It should allow Britons suffering with higher monthly bills, slower connections, and poor customer service to make a change.

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