Minister De Sutter wants to make the general public more aware of the easy switch between telecom operators
According to an evaluation report by telecom regulator BIPT, there is still insufficient use of the ‘Easy Switch’ system, allowing consumers to change their fixed telecom operator quickly and easily. Over the last three years, less than one fifth of all transfers to another operator were performed via this system. ‘This must be improved,’ says Minister of Telecommunication Petra De Sutter. ‘If more people know and use the system, it will also benefit the telecom tariffs.’
Easy Switch was launched in 2014 by former Minister of Telecommunication, Alexander De Croo. The system aims to make it easier for consumers to switch to another fixed telecom operator (landline, internet and television). The principle is simple. A customer wishing to change operator goes to the new operator, who immediately takes over all the work involved in the transfer. From giving notice to arranging a seamless transition between the two contracts.
‘This system removes many obstacles for customers when switching to another telecom operator,’ says Minister De Sutter. ‘After all, if you have to arrange everything as a user, it involves a huge amount of administration and uncertainty. Even so, more than six years on, we can see that the system is still barely known by the general public. And the operators must also be clearer in their communication. In fact, the principle is one of an opt-out system, whereby the rule is that the new operator must take care of the switch.’
Customers may still decide to handle everything themselves, however, research by BIPT indicates that the percentage of people transferring via Easy Switch over the last three years has stagnated at 20%. It is clear that the system is still far from established, both in terms of consumers and operators. In addition, the system also has a few teething problems such as the Easy Switch ID, which many customers struggle to find. These problems must be resolved.
‘The idea behind the system is really good, however, the Easy Switch must become even easier,’ says Minister De Sutter. ‘In fact, Belgium was a pioneer in 2017, because the EU used the Belgian system as an example for the telecom directives which were approved by the European Parliament. If the system works well and is sufficiently used, customers will switch more often and faster to another telecom provider, stimulating competition and a dynamic market. But, to do so, more people must know how Easy Switch works and the teething problems must be resolved.’
In the coming months, Minister Petra De Sutter will therefore meet with the operators and BIPT. Her aim is to have a detailed plan by the summer in order to make Easy Switch a success.