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New Data Indicates Sharp UK Decline in Broadband ISP Switching

Friday, Mar 1st, 2024 (12:01 am) - Score 2,640
switching man broadband isp uk

A new study by Broadband Genie, which harnesses data from actual consumer migrations, has claimed that there was a decrease of 38% in broadband ISP switches during the period of 15th December 2023 to 12th February 2024 and as a result UK bill payers are estimated to be £53m worse off in lost savings.

The raw switching data appears to have been extracted from the Awin platform, which is used by a lot of price comparison sites and services to help track sales of broadband, mobile and phone products. As above, this data showed a 38% fall in broadband switches compared with the same period last year.

NOTE: Awin reported a total of 863,536 broadband switches across the whole of 2023.

According to the study, the fall coincided with the introduction of two key developments – the Advertising Standards Authority’s (ASA) new transparency guidance for how ISPs should communicate mid-contract prices hikes to consumers (here), and Ofcom’s proposal to ban in-contract price rises that are linked to inflation and percentage-based changes (here).

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The study claims that, on average, shoppers are estimated to save £162 a year by switching their broadband to a new provider – reflecting a total of around £140m when using the annual figure of 863,536 broadband switches. The £53m figure above is essentially 38% of that £140m, but it should be said that the 38% is derived from only part of the year (mid-Dec to Mid-Feb) and we don’t know if this trend held for the whole of 2023.

In any case, the suggestion here is that the recent rule changes seem to actually be discouraging switching, which is perhaps not the outcome that either the ASA or Ofcom would have wanted.

Alex Tofts of Broadband Genie said:

“The ASA intended to reduce the confusion that bill payers experience when they see a jump in their contract, but sadly it’s had the knock-on effect of scaring customers off trying to save money. Our analysis indicates that the new [ASA] rules are a clear deterrent for shoppers looking to switch their deal.

While we fully support Ofcom’s efforts to curb inflation-linked price hikes, the only solution is to ban mid-contract price rises outright. If smaller providers such as Hyperoptic and Cuckoo can afford to commit no price rises, there is no reason why the larger providers shouldn’t follow suit.”

On the other hand, this is only one set of data, and we don’t yet know if it holds true from other sources (e.g. Ofcom). Personally speaking, ISPreview didn’t notice much of a notable change in our own switching data for the same period, but that’s a very site-specific thing and clearly the overall data from Awin is indicating a wider trend.

The survey also includes a perhaps poorly timed quote from Cuckoo, which is one of several smaller players that have committed not to do mid-contract price hikes. But Cuckoo has also just made headlines by booting some of their existing customers to another ISP (here), which may make this comment difficult for some to read. As the CEO, Tommy Toner, says: “At Cuckoo, we value our customers. People deserve to be treated fairly..” and we’ll just stop at that.

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Mark-Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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Comments
17 Responses
  1. Avatar photo RightSaidFred says:

    A big part of this is how long it takes comparison sites to update their offerings after FTTP becomes live in an area.

    Some comparison sites still won’t show me any FTTP packages despite it being live since 3rd January. For the first 10 days not a single comparison sites had any options for me.

    I went direct to the provider, used their own checker, and ordered immediately.

    This article should serve as more of a spur for the comparison websites to get their act together re FTTP, not as some false narrative about how pricing rules changes has somehow stopped people from switching; it hasn’t.

    1. Avatar photo name says:

      So we’re going to ignore ADSL, VDSL & DOCSIS based connections then?

    2. Avatar photo RightSaidFred says:

      Funny you should mention that. ADSL is all one comparison site would offer me, despite the impossibility of them being able to deliver it.

      I read this article first on the TBB website, where the article there lists 10 reasons why the data may be inaccurate. I simply added my own one to that list here using my own first hand experience.

      Would you believe speculation over first hand experience? If so, you’re a fool.

    3. Avatar photo Name says:

      “Would you believe speculation over first hand experience? If so, you’re a fool” – Don’t worry, I trust you not to lie about it. I was actually going the other direction in that I don’t think enough people care about FTTP specifically for the data to be constantly updated by those comparison websites.

      Let’s be honest with ourselves, and everybody reading this, ‘speed’ is largely irrelevant & maybe 70% of guys can barely tell the difference between a 24 Mbp/s data rate or a 80 Mbp/s data rate – never mind 900 & beyond. So why bother subjecting the average joe to information overload if they likely couldn’t give a toss about to start with, the number one priority appears to be price & convenience. Furthermore, you ask 80% of people what fibre is and they’ve not got a single clue.

      Here’s a story: I was dealing with one person about three months ago having problems with their line dropping & they argued with me that they were getting ‘full fibre’ – that wasn’t true because the only thing I had to do was look at the mastersocket which was in their living room next to their router in full view of anybody walking past the door into the kitchen i.e. clear as day to those of us in the know. Turns out, BT managed to balls the order up and billed them for a FTTP service but gave them a connection over copper instead. A phone call later and the Openreach guys installed the fibre that should have been done 4 months ago before I even saw it.

      To be fair on BT, the call centre staff recognised the issue themselves without either of us mentioning the ‘full fibre’ not being that.

      My point? BT could have continued doing exactly that provided the line worked as intended. Speed wasn’t a problem just the reliability, so why from the perspective of the comparison websites would they bother with the extra steps of constantly bringing in reliable up-to-date information regarding FTTP if their target audience likely won’t see a difference in the service anyway, let alone care to know the difference between that and copper/fibre hybrid. It’s just information overload, and booking a day off for an install likely isn’t going to sell a service either. The majority of folk use the comparison websites for convenience and saving a few pennies.

  2. Avatar photo Big Dave says:

    If this data is correct then I’m not surprised. The market seems to be getting more and more confusing for the average Joe and the prospect of having to have multiple installations and holes drilled and gardens dug probably puts a lot of customers off leading them to stay put with what they’ve got.

    1. Avatar photo RightSaidFred says:

      Indeed. Nothing in their analysis about the impact of Stop Sells where FTTP is available, and people not going ahead once they realise that the switch itself isn’t as straightforward as the last time they switched.

  3. Avatar photo occasionally factual says:

    These switching sites cannot be bothered to show what can actually be ordered. They just show a small selection (all of whom pay for the switches). These sites have zero interest in helping you get the best deal, just a deal that makes the switching site money.
    Going to Broadband Genie today shows for me 36 deals – great you say but that is across 5 ISPs! Yep 5 ISPs in total can allegedly offer me connectivity.

  4. Avatar photo Bob says:

    Not really a great surprise as more and more people have moved to FTTH and migrating to another ISP is not easy and in many areas there may be no other ISP to switch to

  5. Avatar photo Guy Cashmore says:

    I think the penny has dropped with most consumers, switching ISP doesn’t solve 99% of likely issues causing ‘bad broadband’, so it’s pointless switching.

  6. Avatar photo Ray Robertson says:

    Does the study take in account the effect of longer term contracts? 18 & 24-month deals are increasingly common particularly on FTTP services.

  7. Avatar photo finaldest says:

    Its no secret people are not switching.

    Its just not worth the effort, You risk disrupting your service for a brief price reduction. Switching will also tie you into a new contract for at least 18 months only to be informed of price rises due to inflation or some other excuse. Unless you have a choice of multiple networks (VM, OpenReach, CF) then its frankly just not worth it.

  8. Avatar photo MRLeeds says:

    I’m with CF via Vodafone and it doesn’t seem easy to switch anymore, I seemingly have to cancel, get disconnected and order with someone else, I thought Ofcom were supposed to make them let you port but it doesn’t seem to have happened, thankfully I’m happy with VF for now. Also as an example, the CF site says I can get Talktalk fttp, but when I click through the talk talk site wants me to go back to 50mbps vdsl with no fttp options.

  9. Avatar photo Lexx says:

    Probably waiting for real fibre to come

    Once I get FTTP on my pole I likely leave virgin and go onto an openreach provider (unless virgin is willing to change there tune once they have competition as I can only get around 30/7mb vdsl FTTP I won’t have that limit anymore once they get to our street witch is very soon)

  10. Avatar photo Rena says:

    I work for a small provider for 10 years now. Stop Sell has a lot to do with people stop switching.

    1. Avatar photo Mwood says:

      I agree. Stop sell means having to switch to VOIP and port a cherished land line number. Most ISPs will charge and have a business focused VOIP service (expensive in domestic terms). Too much hassle for many. I have pushed the issue down the road by switching to a Talk Talk Business reseller ISP, although I will have to bite the bullet eventually.

  11. Avatar photo Ethel Prunehat says:

    This is one quarter’s data. Surely over a year would be much more interesting.

    1. Avatar photo Ethel Prunehat says:

      Whoops, “relevant”, not “interesting”. Presumably a single quarter is “interesting” because it shows a much bigger effect than a year!

Comments are closed

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