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  • Satellite Evolution Group

Community Fibre challenges BT, Virgin and the Broadband Industry

On Wednesday 13th December, The One Touch Switching Company (TOTSCo), the organisation sanctioned and supported by Ofcom and funded by BT, Virgin and Vodafone to deliver easy, joined up and seamless switching for customers between internet providers, announced that it still wasn’t ready to launch on 14th March 2024, nearly a year after delaying the previous launch deadline of 3rd April 2023. Community Fibre believes that the big players are desperate to avoid making it easy for customers to leave and join better, lower cost providers. We note that Virgin Media O2 are still under investigation by Ofcom for unfairly stopping customers leaving.  

Community Fibre has successfully tested the most recent TOTSCo customer switching specification with considerably less resource at its disposal than the likes of BT, and Virgin and can hit the 14th March date. Community Fibre believes that if the other parties were sufficiently motivated to make it, they could be ready too. Ofcom had threatened enforcement action back on 2nd March 2023 when the previous delay was imminent and has now threatened the same with the latest delay, but to date Ofcom has not fined anyone.

Additionally on Wednesday 13th December, Ofcom finally announced that it was going to stop internet providers from misleading customers about the technology being used to deliver their internet. To date many of the large national providers and others have been confusing customers by claiming that they are providing fibre broadband, when in reality it is only partial fibre, with the actual delivery into the home still using old slo-mo copper technology. Although Ofcom have confirmed that many ISP’s should stop confusing customers in this way, they are not enforcing the new correct definitions until September 2024, and even then the new rules do not prevent 'fibre fibbing' completely.  Most changes could be made within days on the web and digital media and worst cases a couple of months for traditional media so Community Fibre believes the implementation should start now.   

Graeme Oxby, CEO of Community Fibre said: “Ofcom should be outraged on behalf of the public that BT, Virgin and others continue to stifle and slow down competition and confuse customers. If Broadband providers use any copper to deliver the service, they shouldn’t tell consumers that it is fibre as that is ‘fibre fibbing’.Those companies who don’t provide 100% full fibre have been misleading customers for years and should implement ‘technology truthfulness’ in all their communications without any further delay. Similarly, rather than wait for Ofcom to fine the offenders, I am challenging TOTSCo and the big players to pull their socks up and deliver the one touch switching service for 14 March 2024.  Consumers want it, competition requires it and the Regulator has mandated it, so let's get on with it.”

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