Firms may have to send alerts to their landline, broadband, TV and mobile customers when they approach the end of their contract, under new rules proposed today by Ofcom.

The communications regulator wants companies to notify their customers when their contract is coming to an end, inform them of any changes to their price or services and let them know their options, including that they could save money.

Providers would also be required to send a one-off 'out-of-contract' notification to all existing customers whose initial contract has ended, and who weren't given this information at the time.

Currently providers don't have to warn you when your contract is coming to an end, and Ofcom says that more than 20 million customers are outside their minimum contract period, and more than 10 million are on deals with an automatic price increase at the end.

The communications regulator says the plans are part of its work to help people shop around and secure the best communications deal for them, whether by switching provider or striking a new deal with their existing one. It will be consulting on the plans until 9 October this year.

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How will the alerts work?

Under Ofcom's proposals, notifications would be sent to all residential and small-business customers (who have ten employees or fewer) who use services including landline, broadband, paid-for TV and mobile - whether they are standalone or a bundle.

The notifications should be sent 40-70 days before the contract ends, and should use the customer's preferred communication method, which could be a text, email or letter.

What does Ofcom say?

Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s consumer group director, said: "We're concerned many people are paying more than they need to – particularly those who are out of contract.

"Customers have told us they want to be alerted when their phone, TV or broadband contract is coming to an end, and get advice on their options. Under our plans, providers would have to do exactly that."