Ofcom considering making ISP switching easier

Darren Allan

September 10, 2010

Ofcom has been busy researching again, this time in the field of broadband migration.

And the watchdog’s findings are that 45% of the people it questioned on the topic of switching their broadband provider said it was too much like hard work.

Part of the issue here, Ofcom reckons, is that the switching process is made more problematic than it should be because the ISP the consumer is leaving has to provide a MAC (Migration Authorisation Code) that can be passed on to the new provider to make the transition.

However, the ISP which is being left can drag its heels during this process, as obviously the company will be in no rush to lose a customer. In theory, they have to provide the MAC number inside a week, but that doesn’t always happen, and the ISP might hope the customer gets put off by the hassle and decides to stay put.

Ofcom proposes changing the system to let the ISP that the consumer is transferring over to handle the situation – nothing would be lacking on the speed front then. However, as a BBC article makes clear, if this was the situation, there would have to be rules put in place against so-called “slamming”, where a customer is switched over without their express approval.

Ofcom told the Beeb: “There are a lot of different switching processes in the communications market, some the industry came up with, some the previous regulators sorted out – so it’s not surprising that people don’t find it easy to switch.”

“There needs to be some level of consumer protection in there, but the process needs to be simple enough for people to take advantage of competition, better services and cheaper prices.”

However, there isn’t going to be any immediate movement on this front, as Ofcom is just considering the matter currently, with a view to potentially implementing fresh policies next year.


Comments in chronological order (1 comment)

  1. Allan says:

    I agree that this MAC code should be taken out of the suppliers hands. I would like to move from Tiscali since they where taken over by talktalk, but know from past experience I would lose the internet for about a week while their ‘Mistake’ was corrected. It is a shame Ofcom can’t get their fingers out and get on with taking this MAC code out of the picture. While they are at it they could stop providers insisting on using direct debit, because if your account is as little as a penny short of the direct debit demand on that date the banks charge you a small fortune for an unauthorized overdraft.

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