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New Launch Date for Delayed Faster UK Broadband ISP Switching

Tuesday, Mar 12th, 2024 (12:25 pm) - Score 4,360
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The industry-led One Touch Switching Company (TOTSCo), which is responsible for implementing Ofcom’s solution for faster consumer switching between UK broadband ISPs on different networks (aka – One Touch Switch), has announced that the now heavily delayed system will aim to go live on 12th September 2024.

Back in 2021 the industry regulator, Ofcom, set a deadline of 3rd April 2023 for internet providers to implement OTS, which expands the existing Gaining Provider Led (GPL) migration system to work across alternative networks (the old system was mostly only focused on Openreach based providers) and to action switches within just 1 day instead of 10 days “where technically possible“.

NOTE: GPL simply defines the process where you contact your chosen (new) ISP and ask them, as part of your order, to automatically switch your home broadband / phone service away from the old provider (i.e. you don’t need to contact your old ISP to start the switch).

Sadly, the April 2023 deadline came and went, which is something we’ve covered extensively several times before (here, here and here). TOTSCo later set a new target for 14th March 2024, but at the end of last year the organisation revealed that the new date was “no longer achievable“ either (here).


Most of the blame for this was placed at the feet of the major providers, with Ofcom singling out BT, Sky Broadband, TalkTalk and Virgin Media (VMO2) for not being able to complete the necessary testing and trials before the revised go-live date (here). In fairness, more effective regulatory leadership earlier on in the process (as opposed to expecting cats to herd themselves) might have avoided all this, but we’ve covered that in previous articles.

The good news today is that TOTSCo has announced another go-live target for 12th September 2024, which in our view stands a good chance of being met.

TOTSCo Statement

“In arriving at this date, we have spoken with many CPs (communication providers) and other stakeholders from all industry sections. We believe that all parties can achieve this date. While we recognise that many CPs would prefer an earlier date, we believe that this is the earliest credible date given the implementation timescales that have been communicated to us.

In addition, we are publishing the TOTSCo path to One Touch Switch. There are different paths to go live depending on participation in industry trials, and this document contains details on both. For those not participating in trials, this document outlines the plan for connection to the hub before OTS go live. Where required, we will fill in extra detail throughout the process, and communicate appropriately.”

Ofcom has previously warned that they would “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,” although thus far the regulator has avoided any punitive actions – largely in recognition of the fact that the challenges of adoption have been a problem for the whole industry.

Ofcom Statement

“We have received written assurances from [BT, Sky Broadband, TalkTalk and Virgin Media] that the September launch date is achievable. We will use all necessary resources and oversight to hold TOTSCo and industry to account in meeting this deadline.

The continued delays by industry have ultimately caused customers to lose out on the benefits of a quicker and more effective switching process. Once OTS has launched – and based on the evidence gathered under our industry enforcement programme – we will review the conduct of BT, Sky, TalkTalk and VMO2, as well as any other providers we feel should be further scrutinised, to determine whether it is appropriate to open investigations into individual providers.”

In fairness, major ISPs are particularly risk-averse because even small mistakes in a new system like this can result in big, often costly, problems. Suffice to say that it’s better to do something right the first time than to rush it into existence. At the same time, the regulator’s patience has largely run out, and we suspect they may choose to use the stick if the new date isn’t achieved.


Finally, the new “path to OTS” document gives us a bit more detail on the predicted timescale for the final testing and launch phases, which we’ve pasted below.

1. Technical Trials
Purpose: Validating the live production environment and the end-to-end OTS process.

Type of switch: non-primary lines only. No residential customer should be at risk of an adverse impact.

Entry criteria:

• Successfully passed all trials entry criteria (see above).
• Approval to proceed from the TOTSCo Trials Team.

Trial stage duration: March and April.

Volume of switches: up to 30 per Communication Provider (CP).

2. Staff Trials
Purpose: Trial a limited number of primary lines to prove the end-to-end OTS process utilising varied scenarios in a controlled manner to minimise potential consumer harm. This stage will commence following successful completion of technical trials. Staff trials will be pre-planned with TOTSCo with agreed test scenarios.

Type of switch: primary lines on pre-selected volunteer employees or friends and family.

Entry criteria:

• Successfully passed all trials entry criteria (see page 3).
• Identify volunteers who are prepared to switch between trial participating organisations.
• Approval to proceed from the TOTSCo Trials Team.

Trial stage duration: May and June.

Volume of switches: between 30-50 gaining provider switches per CP and 30-50 losing provider switches per CP.

3. Industry Ramp-up
Purpose: Gradually increasing volume of switches and scenarios to continue to validate the process and technology.

Type of switch: primary lines with no pre-selection.

Entry criteria:

• Successfully passed all trials entry criteria (see page 3).
• Commitment to participate with the understanding that the ramp-up stage is a permanent stage until the One Touch Switch go-live.
• Honouring of 100% of losing journeys to other participants in the trial.
• Adjusting trial volumes to align with the planned gaining provider journeys.
• Approval to proceed from the TOTSCo Trials Team.

Trial stage duration: July and August.

Volume of switches: a significant number of trials messages

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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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11 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Jordan says:

    I don’t believe anything these people say anymore, so many delays after delays like why should we trust you now ? (to TOTSCo )

  2. Avatar photo RightSaidFred says:

    Biggest issue with OTS for FTTP is that altnets tend to favour direct sales, i.e. knocking at the door. What oversight will there be for this OTS route? We’ve all come across an unscrupulous door-to-door salesman at some point.

    1. Avatar photo Peter says:

      What difference does that make, they still need to submit the order via their system

    2. Avatar photo Guy says:

      It is worth noting that doorstep selling had additional consumer protections built in under the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013 – Effectively a right to cancel within 14 days of signing up to any service door to door.

      Those credible altnets who use field sales will likely set a switching date after this period expires giving the customer the time they need to be happy with their choices.

      Crucially it means the customer doesn’t have to go through an onerous cancellation process with their current provider when they try to tempt them with deals that quite frankly they should have been offered in the first place.

    3. Avatar photo Colin Noden says:

      The requirement is for providers to be able to respond to switching requests, there is no requirement for them to use it when selling. However, they would be missing a trick if they didn’t implement a system to allow their direct sales guys to confirm a switch there and then negate the risk of the incumbent provider retaining the customer when they call to cancel.

    4. Avatar photo RightSaidFred says:

      The trial process even references the losing provider not challenging any losses.

      Honestly, this is daft.

      With an online system the customer at least has to input their own details before progressing.

      On the doorstep, what is stopping a dodgy fella pre-populating the customer info?

      Don’t see why they can’t use PAC/MAC codes requested directly by the customer and input as proof of agreement. The request should only be possible via an ethernet connected device on the network.

    5. Avatar photo BrrrngBrrrrng says:

      “The requirement is for providers to be able to respond to switching requests, there is no requirement for them to use it when selling.”

      I don’t think this is true at all.

    6. Avatar photo Ad47uk says:

      I think I would prefer to do it the way I did it when changing from Plusnet to Zzoomm. At least I still had Plusnet if anything went wrong with the installation, which it did the first time as there was a delay due to Zzoomm wanting to send photos to my landord.
      I know it may have cost a month extra, for plusnet, but at least I still had broadband.

  3. Avatar photo Ethel Prunehat says:

    Alternative headline:
    “Turkeys delay implementation of Christmas Acceleration System”

  4. Avatar photo Gary Hough says:

    Irony the revised date as I just looked back at my notes from when Ofcom originally kicked this off and I put an eta of around September 2024 as a realistic deadline, then we got told it had to be April 2023.

    It was NEVER going to be done when Ofcom asked and Industry was right to not implement something with the vendor that would likely have delivered risk to consumers by rushing something in that was designed to meet a deadline rather than a robust, safe and secure switching platform for all.

  5. Avatar photo Ben says:

    Wasn’t it only last month when TOTSCo signed a strategic partnership with Tech Mahindra to design, build and operate their platform? It seems a little ambitious to start running technical trials this month and next month.

Comments are closed

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