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Ofcom's X-Mas Gift - Compulsory Migration Policy
By: MarkJ - 29 November, 2006 (9:53 AM)

Customers of broadband ADSL ISP's could be jumping for joy this Christmas after Ofcom revealed that it had prioritised the introduction of a new migration code (MAC) policy. The changes, which have been pushed forward due to recent customer complaints, may even arrive before Christmas!:

Ofcom launched a consultation on the issue in August after an ISP called E7even was cut off by its wholesale suppliers, Tiscali and NetServices. NetServices strongly recommended to E7even's customers that they sign up for a new contract with ezeeDSL an obscure ISP which is itself another NetServices customer.

NetServices refused to issue MACs to the customers, claiming it was unable to do so. Customers were therefore left with the choice of signing a new 12-month NetServices-based contract or being entirely disconnected (and relegated to dial-up internet access) until a bulk cease request was processed by BT. This process can take weeks.

"In this case, Ofcom made it clear to both Tiscali and NetServices that it did not consider it appropriate for wholesale providers to restrict customers' choice of a new supplier," said Ofcom in its consultation paper. "However, these wholesale providers did not change their course of action, and Ofcom was unable to take formal action to remedy the situation due to the voluntary nature of the MAC process."

Despite Ofcom's disapproval, the above situation has been repeated again and again with different providers, most recently via the Biscit(V21)/NetServices (NS) dispute. This caused widespread anger and a raft of complaints to Ofcom, which appears to have had the desired impact.

Ofcom makes no secret that the recent problems are largely responsible for their change of pace, although stopped short of saying precisely what they've decided to do. Indeed it's not clear whether anything will actually be introduced before Christmas, just that a key statement on the subject is to be issued.

It would naturally be wonderful if the much hoped for mandatory migration code could be enforced. However it's more likely that Ofcom will merely outline what it intends to do and set a date for introduction, either way it's good news. More @ ZDNet.

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