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UPDATE ASK4 Still Hunting for Seamless Migration Solution from Digital Region

Friday, Mar 14th, 2014 (9:40 am) - Score 1,268

Sheffield-based ASK4 has revealed that efforts to help customers escape from South Yorkshire’s (England) defunct Digital Region superfast broadband network are on-going. But they’re still struggling to offer a seamless migration path due to a “lack of clarity” on some database issues from DRL and supplier Thales.

The Digital Region (DRL) network collapsed last year under a huge weight of public debt (here), which occurred after more than £100 million of public money was spent to build a platform that ultimately only mustered 3,000 subscribers (it needed over 100,000 to break-even). Last month a final closure date for DRL was confirmed as 14/15th August 2014 (here).

But since then DRLs former ISP partners have all been struggling with the complex issue of migration between a defunct Sub-Loop Unbundled (SLU) platform and the separate networks offered by mainstream providers like BT, Sky Broadband (LLU) and Virgin Media (Cable) etc.

Sadly many of these different network platforms cannot easily support a seamless migration from DRL’s SLU service and this is causing no end of frustration for both the ISPs and their subscribers.

ASK4s Latest Newsletter

You may have heard that the Digital Region Network, operated by Thales, is set to close due to the network owner, Digital Region Limited (DRL), going out of business. The date for the closure of the network is set at 14th August 2014. After that date your Digital Region service will cease to work and ASK4 will be unable to provide you with a similar service.

As your Internet Service Provider, we are working hard with Thales and DRL to clarify the ways in which you can migrate your service to a new provider with the least interruption to service as possible. At this time there is still a lack of clarity about some of the methods that it might be possible to use that allow for a seamless migration. We are working hard to clarify the situation with DRL and Thales, but for the moment the only certain facts about migration options are as follows:

You can cease your service with ASK4 with no financial penalty for leaving your contract early. Please be aware that once you ask us to cease your connection, we will co-ordinate the date of your cease to be the same as the date that your next bill is due. Once you have received confirmation that the cease process is completed, you can request a new service from a new provider.

Please note that this is not a migration as such, it is what is referred to as a “cease and re-provide”. This means you will be without an internet connection for as long as it takes your new provider to activate their service on your line.

I understand that you will want more information about your options as soon as possible to allow you the most time to make an informed decision about where to move your service to. This statement is simply to let you know the current state of the service closure plans and give you some indication that we are working hard to try and provide clarity for you as soon as possible.

One other problem with the cease and re-provide approach, aside from the downtime involved, is that it will often attract an extra “new line connection” fee when subscribing to another ISP. New line fees can cost over £100, although some of the larger ISPs will do it for free and others charge just £25 or a little more.

However ASK4 did stress to ISPreview.co.uk that the newsletter was more of a holding statement while they attempt to find a better solution. At present some seamless switches using the familiar Migration Authorisation Code (MAC) process have worked, although apparently DRL have some issues with their database that is inhibiting the manual MAC process.

Customers still have several months to play with and so it might be worth waiting a little longer because a solution isn’t impossible, although there’s no ETA for when this might happen. Even if a fix does arrive then some platforms, such as a switch to Virgin’s cable network, still won’t be seamless.

UPDATE 18th March 2014

BTOpenreach has posted a new guide for Sub-Loop Unbundled (SLU) ISPs like those on DRLs network, although it might also help consumers to understand their migration options and can be read in full here.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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