Global: Ofcom makes switching service providers easy

Ofcom, the community regulator in UK removes the unfair penalties imposed on broadband and mobile phone subscribers which make it easy for the customers to switch from one provider to another. Henceforth, the telecom operators are obliged to free the customers from the contract deals, in case of any dissatisfaction on the service.

Exit penalties may still trouble those customers who benefitted from heavily subsidized handsets. However, the new rule will facilitate switching of providers easier. At present, there are ‘unlocking’ charges to be paid in case if the subscriber intends to use phone on another network. It is also time consuming, at least a minimum of 28 days for the unlocking to happen.

“Our job is to ensure that markets work for consumers and citizens, principally by encouraging competition,” said Sharon White, Ofcom Chief. “Where markets don’t work well enough – or where competition alone isn’t enough to secure good outcomes for customers – then we have the power to intervene,” she added.

The immediate action is taken after consideration of the large number of complaints from the customers, who blame service providers for not allowing them to exit their communication service contracts.

Other reforms on mobile phone contracts will be released by next month. Ofcom may direct the companies to handover PAC codes to customers. This will heavily reduce the amount of time people need to spend on call centres. Early-termination fee is also likely to cut.

There are also plans to improve the mobile phone signals of train passengers, by allowing unmanned drones to fly near railway lines. Other innovative solutions, including tethering balloons to the sides of carriages to ensure travelers receive coverage on every mile of track are also into consideration.

Ofcom has launched a new ‘enforcement program’, which enables customers to reach the regulator fast, when they feel they are treated unfairly.

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