Switching between telecom providers will soon become easier in Belgium, as Federal Telecom Minister Petra De Sutter is simplifying the 'Easy Switch' system and lowering the threshold for households to go to a cheaper operator.
The 'Easy Switch' system to simplify moving between operators has been in place for over five years. According to the latest figures, over 99,125 subscribers used the system to change operators in 2021 – a quarter of all switches.
"In Belgium, 44% of subscribers with an internet and digital television package have never switched operators, compared with 19% in Finland and 33% in Spain. Switching operators seems to be more difficult in our country," said De Sutter in a press release.
"We suspect that people stay with the same operator for years because they want to avoid the hassle. A change does not always go smoothly, however it can save you money," she said. For this reason, a Royal Decree (published in the Official Gazette today) will come into force next year.
No more double bills
While it is difficult to put an exact figure on how much people can expect to save, switching provider could be highly cost-effective. "The sum can amount to €100/year for mobile telephony, and up to €240/year for fixed internet, according to the telecoms regulator BIPT," De Sutter stated.
She hopes that by making the 'Easy Switch' system even easier, customer flow will increase, promoting competition and bringing lower prices.
Currently, telecom operators are required to give customers a unique identification number so that they can switch to another operator. But this doesn't always work smoothly. Numbers are often passed on incorrectly, causing Easy Switch to backfire and people receiving double bills.
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"We will add a control number to that identification number so that the switch can no longer go wrong. If customers are given the wrong number, the new operator will get an error message," De Sutter said. "The identification number and control number will now also always be visible on the first page of the monthly bill (which is not currently the case)."
Additionally, De Sutter's Royal Decree also imposes automatic higher compensation for customers who wait in vain for the technician's installation visit. "If the technician does not show up, the customer will automatically receive €30 compensation. Now, that is only €10 and customers have to go after it themselves."
Additionally, telecom operators will be better trained to help customers and they will contact the new customer themselves to take care of the last formalities. "Businesses and associations can also turn to Easy Switch if they want to change telecoms providers, as long as they have a standard tariff plan."