Transferring between Openreach Suppliers

Does your broadband supplier use Openreach?

Transferring between Openreach suppliers is easy and, with the notable exception of Virgin Media and some smaller FTTP suppliers, almost all the UK’s major broadband suppliers use the Openreach network. This includes companies like Sky, TalkTalk, BT and so on.

Openreach networkFrom a customer perspective this is very good news, because transferring between Openreach suppliers is a simple process. If your current supplier uses the Openreach network and you’re switching to another Openreach provider, transfers between the companies follow a simple ‘one-stop’ switching process.

As long as you’re outside your contract minimum term, you simply sign up with a new provider and they will arrange the transfer for you and advise your old supplier that the transfer is happening. Once the two companies have agreed a transfer date between themselves they should then send you a letter (or email) to confirm the transfer.

When this happens, your old provider must include details of the services that will be transferred, any services which are not affected (for example TV or mobile deals) and any charges that apply if you are leaving your contract early. Both suppliers will also confirm the estimated transfer date.

Should I cancel my old contract, just to be sure?

It is important to note that if you are transferring from one Openreach supplier to another, and you tell your old supplier that you are “cancelling” your contract, it is highly likely that they will place what is called a ‘cease order’ notice on your line, which then prevents that line from being transferred, or at best will cause a delay until it is then removed.

If your old supplier has already received a transfer request from the new supplier, they may well realise your error and explain that they will not cancel your line but will instead allow the transfer to go ahead, though this relies on timing and also staff awareness.

Rules mean that when transferring between Openreach suppliers, your old provider is no longer allowed to attempt to contact you to try and tempt you to stay. If you are trying to use the threat of transferring to get a better deal, you need to do it by phoning them and telling them you are leaving unless they offer you a better deal. Once a transfer has been initiated, they are not allowed to contact you for this purpose.

Possible problems and how to avoid them

Whilst it shouldn’t happen, we regularly hear from customers whose transfers have mysteriously failed. There are legitimate reasons why your supplier might reject a transfer request, such as account debt, but what can also happen (in the real world) is that when your old supplier receives a transfer request they can silently reject it on the grounds that you knew nothing about it.

broadband problemsWe know of one company which ran a highly aggressive black friday offer in past years which found that a huge percentage of the transfer requests submitted to certain cometing suppliers were rejected on these grounds. Customer who queried this were thenm told ‘no, we’ve not received any transfer request, but what can we do to persuade you to stay?’.

Our advice is that it never hurts to send your old supplier a carefully worded email advising them of your intention to transfer services to another supplier. We’ve even added a quick and simple template advising a supplier you are transferring to a new supplier which you might want to use.

Changing to a different network

If you’re changing between an Openreach supplier and a different network such as Virgin Media, different rules apply. See Changing Networks.