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Consumers "Scared" to Switch Broadband Providers
By: MarkJ - 11 February, 2008 (1:37 PM)

BroadbandChoices has just published the results of its latest survey, which found that one third of consumers wishing to switch broadband provider donít do so because they have no faith in the process.

In 2007 the figures (Ofcom) for consumers switching broadband provider rose, to 13% (up from 9% in 2006). Current statistics show that one in four consumers is looking to switch broadband provider in 2008. ďMany consumers are afraid to switch in case something goes wrongĒ, says Michael Phillips, product development director at BroadbandChoices.co.uk:

"Some are concerned they will be stuck with a hefty bill for the privilege of moving, and that they could in fact be left without a connection for long periods Ė catastrophic for those relying on it for their livelihoods. Others simply canít be bothered with the headache of call centres, half of which have been shown in our research to offer conflicting advice to customers when it comes to switching.

There needs to be a radical shake up of the switching procedures. ISPs should no longer be able to get away with bullying customers in such a way that could potentially deter them from making a switch. Making migrations between the multitude of ISPs faster and simpler is a must. A robust system needs to be put in place and we would suggest that, in the future, switching procedures should be facilitated by the new (or ďjoiningĒ) provider. Itís in their interest to ensure that the customer can migrate to their services as smoothly and as quickly as possible. It shouldnít be up to the consumer to battle between the two providers in order to switch-over.

Itís ironic MAC codes were introduced by Ofcom to ease the issues surrounding migration, yet Ofcom still cites seven different processes for switching. Consumers have every right to be bewildered and concerned.
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Technically, a MAC code is like a serial number, used to identify your broadband connection within the local exchange. If a switching provider has this code, they can simply move your connection over to their service. However, if you have an LLU or cable connection you wonít be able to use the MAC migration service to switch provider, although some ISPs are trialling LLU MACs. Instead youíll have to wait without broadband until your new connection is up and running.

Phillips says, "While the LLU MAC code system is being trialled for partial LLU connections (where only the broadband is provided by an unbundled line) ISPís are under no obligation to accept the codes and many customers have been forced to foot the Ďcease and re-provideí cost of moving to a new provider, which currently stands at £58.75. There should also be a move for Ofcom to enforce the rules on LLU MAC so they follow the same regulations as the ADSL providers. If the joining provider was forced to facilitate the switch over then these problems could be eradicated."

Sadly this is nothing new and has been an issue ever since Ofcom introduced its new migration code system. The regulator has been investigating the issue for sometime but has yet to make any tangible changes. Fixing the remaining problems with unbundled migration would surely make picking ISPs a considerably less stressful affair.


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