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Ofcom Reports Falling Broadband Migration Complaints
By: MarkJ - 14 February, 2008 (1:43 PM)

It's just over one year since Ofcom introduced its mandatory General Condition 22 (GC22) rules, which made migration between broadband providers (specifically DSL ISPs) easier for consumers and helped to prevent unscrupulous providers from forcibly holding onto customers.

In the 12 months since the introduction of this General Condition and the opening of Ofcom’s enforcement programme to ensure compliance with this condition, the number of Migration Authorisation Code (MAC) - related complaints received by Ofcom has fallen, from 825 in March 2007 when the programme began to 517 in January 2008

However, despite more consumers than ever before taking advantage of the MAC process, Ofcom remains concerned that the rate of improvement has not been maintained in recent months:

Ensuring that consumers are able to switch their broadband supplier quickly, easily and with minimal service disruption remains a priority for Ofcom. We have therefore decided to extend the GC22 enforcement programme for a further six months. Industry players should now expect that Ofcom may proceed directly to individual notifications of contravention without any further warnings where our investigation of an ISP demonstrates sufficient evidence of contravention of GC22.

For the most part GC22 has been extremely helpful, although we still hear reports of providers that refuse to issue MACs and would encourage Ofcom to retain its enforcement programme indefinitely. Consumers often find it difficult to locate their ISPs complaints handler scheme (ADR) and in such situations it can be hard to get a dispute resolved as Ofcom itself will not deal with individual issues.

Meanwhile unbundled (LLU) providers, specifically fully unbundled ones, continue to be a major problem area because such lines are not completely covered by GC22. Consumers often find that the only way to move from a fully unbundled ISP back to another non-LLU provider is to follow the costly cease and re-provide process, where the line has to be cancelled before you can take up a “new” service.

Ofcom are working towards improving these areas although progress has been painfully slow, leading to higher costs for consumers when switching and restricted flexibility as the popularity of unbundled ISPs becomes ever more dominant.

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