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Ofcom Propose to Simplify Broadband Switching in Hull UK on KCOM

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 (11:38 am) - Score 3,305
broadband isp switching uk

Customers of KC’s broadband and phone network in Hull (East Yorkshire, England) could soon find it easier to switch ISP, assuming they can even find a viable alternative that also uses KCOM’s local telecoms network, after Ofcom proposed several key improvements.

The UK telecoms regulator has now formally proposed, after initially floating the idea back in July 2014 (here), that KCOM’s network should join BTOpenreach in introducing a single harmonised switching process, which would be led by the gaining provider (GPL) and not the losing provider (LPL) as it is today, to improve the experience for consumers seeking to change broadband and phone supplier.

Readers might recall that Ofcom has already developed a “simpler and more reliable” GPL style switching solution for ISPs that use BTOpenreach’s national UK network (here and here), which is due to be ready by mid-2015. This is different to the current approach where consumers can sometimes struggle to switch if their current ISP becomes unresponsive or refuses to let them leave, which is despite such behaviour being against Ofcom’s rules.

Openreach’s network doesn’t exist in Hull, where KCOM (KC) is the incumbent operator and the choice of alternatives remains extremely limited. Never the less Ofcom believes that there are likely to be advantages in adopting the existing Notice of Transfer (NoT) model of GPL to apply on the KCOM network. “We also consider that harmonising to this process is likely to deliver improvements for consumers more quickly, with lower implementation risk and at lower cost,” said Ofcom in today’s consultation.

But doing all this means that Ofcom will also need to overcome some of the known problems with giving the gaining ISP control over the migration process, not least with concerns regarding slamming (i.e. consumers finding their service has been swapped to a new ISP without consent), breaks in service, erroneous transfers and any lack of clarity over the implications of the switch.

Ofcom’s KC Switching Proposal

We propose to make the same improvements to the NoT process on the KCOM network as those which have already been implemented within the NoT process on the Openreach network. These would require:

• that a record of customer consent to switch a fixed voice or broadband service be obtained and stored;
• the provision of better information on the implications of switching;
• that gaining providers (GPs) order the simultaneous transfer with minimal loss of service, of bundled voice and broadband services;
• that no Working Line Takeover (WLT) order shall be placed unless an exact address match has been identified; and
• that a notification shall be sent by the incumbent (losing) Communications Providers (CPs) to its end users advising them of the order under the WLT process – via post or use of e-mail with consumer consent.

Ofcom’s proposal will remain open for consultation until 10th December 2014, although the lack of effective competition in Hull’s somewhat insulated market means that any measures to improve switching there probably won’t have a dramatic impact (i.e. not many alternatives to KC).

Meanwhile the improved switching process is not yet a completely done deal on Openreach’s network, with a number of ISPs continuing to privately express concerns about the technical difficulty and costs of implementing Ofcom’s system. In particular some providers remain fearful that the regulators provisions will not be enough to stop abuses like slamming.

Leave a Comment
2 Responses
  1. Avatar RoboNuggie

    In Hull, this is as useful as pissing in the wind.

  2. Avatar Hank

    Two things worth noting: 1) BT and other providers are able to, but choose not to enter the Hull market, which often gets forgotten; and 2) there are many customers in East Yorkshire for whom easier switching means they can move from often slow rural BT broadband onto faster ADSL or even fibre broadband that KC and not BT Openreach is offering today. I think easier switching has to be a good thing.

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