Ofcom’s new regulatory changes come into force in April 2023, helping the communications industry with the switching process for business customers.
Industry body announces latest development in account switching for business customers
You might already have heard of One Touch Switch - a new process for switching residential customers’ fixed voice and/or broadband services between providers, which Ofcom requires the industry to implement.
Crucially, Ofcom has also confirmed that telecom providers need to take a gaining-provider-led (GPL) approach to business switching. This affects voice and broadband services across all networks.
You can read Ofcom’s statement, issued on 3 February 2022, on the regulator’s website.
Recognising the need for coordination to deliver on this requirement, the Gaining Provider Led Business Steering Group (GPLB-SG) has been formed, consisting of a variety of participating providers, supported by OTA2.
The group aim to put in place an industry-agreed switching process for business customers. GPLB-SG will help you meet your regulatory obligations in the most efficient and effective way possible, and to optimise the switching experience for all your business customers.
How is this happening?
The GPLB-SG has drafted a set of business switching principles that underpin the process. It has also engaged with Ofcom to introduce the work it’s doing and to inform them of its continued progress.
More recently, a process design sub-group was established, known as the Design Drafting Group (DDG), with the sole purpose of creating a business switching process, at a level of detail adequate for industry to assess and feed back on.
As a result, an initial draft set of documents has been created. These include:
- Business Switching Principles for Industry V4.0
- Gaining Provider Led Business Switching Industry Design Process V1.0
- Business Switching Process Design V1.5 (flow diagrams - Visio and PDF versions)
- GPLB Process Steps Rationale v0.2
- FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
These can all be found on GPLB-SG’s new webpage, hosted on the Foundation of Communication Services (FCS) website. You don’t need to register to view these published documents.
Key points on the new regulatory changes
- New GPL switching rules are aimed at quick, easy and reliable switching of fixed voice and broadband business services, across all network providers.
- The current notification of transfer (NoT+) process, including ‘cancel other’ rules, for all Openreach-based business fixed voice and broadband service switches, will be removed.
- Ofcom has not defined a switching process for business customers but has stated that providers initiating business switches must follow a GPL process.
- The new switching regulatory obligation falls upon the retailer, i.e. the company that contracts with the end customer.
- There are some additional new regulatory changes (aside from the new switching process rules), which come into force on 3 April 2023. These include compensation requirements for delayed or failed switches, a customer's right to port their number up to one month after switching, and general information requirements.
What’s in scope?
All business-focused communication providers, providing either NBICS1 or IAS2, will have a regulatory obligation to operate a GPL process solution when switching end customers’ business fixed voice and broadband services.
The process GPLB-SG is developing works for all providers in all areas of the business market and is designed to be the right process for business providers, their customers and the whole industry. The organisation’s industry steering group believes that one standard agreed business switching process will benefit all providers.
When are the changes happening?
The regulatory changes came into force on 3 April 2023. Ofcom is aware the industry process solution was not ready for this date but also that GPLB-SG is working as hard as it can to make it available as soon as possible.
Ofcom has since sent out communications to the industry, addressing this issue.
Who to contact for help
If you have a question about the new business switching process (covering business fixed voice and broadband services), please send it to GPLB-SG via OTA2.
Please note that GPLB-SG cannot give regulatory advice, and providers must satisfy themselves that they are compliant. However, it will do its best to point you in the right direction.
The organisation particularly welcomes comments or questions about the process it’s developing, or the principles and technical developers’ guide underpinning it.
GPLB-SG is expected to provide further details over the course of the coming weeks. Watch this space for future updates.
1NBICS (Number Based Interpersonal Communications Services - generally, any service that uses a geographic / non-geographic number that is not a mobile service).
2IAS (Internet Access Service).