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Firsthelpline Calls For Broadband Migration Overhaul
By: MarkJ - 14 August, 2007 (1:48 PM)

The head of comparison site Firsthelpline.com, Aamir Baloch, has called on the industry regulator (Ofcom) to improve its current broadband migration system for users switching ISP's:

Baloch claims that many users are forced to wait months for a new broadband connection when they swap providers. In some instances, he believes companies have even withheld the Migration Authorisation Code (MAC) needed to facilitate a change of ISP - unreasonably delaying the process. Unlike mobile phones or utilities, there are no guidelines as to the length of the switchover process, leaving broadband providers to decide time frames for themselves.

“At present, the broadband switching process is left up to the consumer,” said Baloch. “Firstly, they have to contact their existing ISP to obtain their unique MAC number, then they need to pass this onto their new supplier. It’s the sole responsibility of the customer to oversee the switch – and this is affording providers more leeway to delay the process.”

firsthelpline.com is calling on Ofcom to introduce new legislation, similar to that used by the energy industry, and most recently by the mobile phone industry which now allows customers to change their provider in just two days.

“Broadband has become a domestic utility – just like energy,” according to Baloch. “If we compare the energy switchover process with broadband, it’s clear that broadband consumers are losing out. When a customer switches energy providers their request goes into a central clearing database. It is then up to the energy suppliers to arrange the switch – not the customer, and we believe the model should be extended to include broadband.”

To be fair Ofcom does require ISP's to issue customers with a MAC within five working days and the process after that need not be anymore complex then giving the number to an Internet provider, in theory.

However problems can arise that complicate matters and some ISP's may break the rules. Not to mention the whole matter of unbunbled (LLU) networks and a lack of support for the whole process. Certainly the MAC process needs to be improved to fill these ever increasing gaps; we just wish Ofcom would talk about it more and get something set in stone.

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