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TOTSCo Clarifies UK Switching Rules for Wireless Broadband Networks

Thursday, Apr 25th, 2024 (1:39 pm) - Score 1,040

The One Touch Switching Company (TOTSCo), which is responsible for implementing Ofcom’s now heavily delayed One Touch Switch (OTS) migration system for faster consumer switching between UK broadband ISPs, has today helped to clarify the tedious subject of applicability to Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) networks.

At present most of the talk around OTS has tended to focus upon fixed line providers, which might have caused some FWA providers to assume that the new rules don’t apply to them. Ofcom has previously stated that it applies to all residential customers switching services provided at a fixed location, regardless of technology (FWA is specifically said to be in-scope).

NOTE: TOTSCo are currently aiming for the new OTS system to go live on 12th September 2024 (here), which is over a year past its original launch date of April 2023.

However, wireless network technologies are quite a diverse group, particularly once you get into the awkward area of wireless broadband services that harness 4G and 5G (mobile broadband) technologies. Mobile operators already have a “Text-to-Switch” (Auto-Switch) system, but there are some products and solutions that may appear to sit in-between this and OTS, which are hard to place.

The latest TOTSCo Bulletin No.54 addresses this conflict by clarifying where the dividing lines sit for different network types.

FWA v mobile broadband

FWA is delivered to most locations using powered proprietary FWA equipment using outdoor-mounted [Customer-Premises Equipment (CPE)] devices. In some cases, mobile technology based on 3G, 4G or 5G equipment is used. In the latter cases, the CPE device might be indoor or outdoor-mounted and would have a SIM or eSIM installed. In either case, the connection would bypass any wired service to the property.

A service marketed as a “home broadband” service, typically requiring a main power supply, and intended to be used in a fixed location, would be FWA, and in scope of OTS switching. A mobile broadband device (e.g. a “MiFi” device) typically has an internal battery, is primarily intended to be used away from a fixed location, and would not be in scope.

The full document covers this and other setups in more detail, and the extra clarity it brings to the table is most welcome. But we note that some ISPs, both fixed line and wireless alike, have yet to join the scheme. If this doesn’t change, then the early launch could be quite rocky for any as yet unprepared providers, although at present TOTSCo claims participation by comms providers with a combined market-share of 97%.

In addition, while OTS only applies to residential services, the new high-level switching rules do technically mean that all switches, including business switches (particularly consumer-grade business broadband), should also be Gaining Provider Led (GPL). Ofcom’s February 2022 Statement, paragraphs 3.122 to 3.132, covers some of this and helps to show why TOTSCo may have much wider applicability than some providers realise.

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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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2 Responses
  1. Avatar photo - says:

    How many FWA domestic users in the UK at present? I assume it is less than 1% instinctively, that would be about 280,000 customers which is still really high. Is it less than 0.5%?

  2. Avatar photo QuantumOfInsolace says:

    I think the article is confused about the TOTS membership list – thats the company shareholders not the list of companies signed up to use OTS

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