Home » 

UK ISP News Archives

 » 
Sponsored Links

UPDATE Ofcom UK Propose Simpler Broadband ISP and Phone Migration Solutions

Posted: 09th Feb, 2012 By: MarkJ
ofcom uk average broadband ISP speeds March 2011The UK communications regulator, Ofcom, has today launched a second consultation that outlines several potential solutions for how the regulator could make migration between broadband and phone providers both "simpler and more reliable". But it could take awhile before they decide which one to use.

According to Ofcom's research, 1 in 5 consumers who switched their broadband lost the service for a week and 130,000 households have faced problems with the wrong telephone line being taken over during a migration or house move.

Another serious and worryingly common problem is slamming, which occurs when a connection is switched without the customers consent. Ofcom claims that a shocking 520,000 UK households have been slammed in this way!

On top of that the current system can trap customers in limbo when their existing ISP ceases to trade or becomes unresponsive. The existing Migration Authorisation Code (MAC) process also fails to work for all ISPs (e.g. fully unbundled and some superfast broadband services). Clearly a change is needed.

Ofcom's Chief Executive, Ed Richards, said:

"Smooth switching processes are essential to ensure that consumers can change providers with confidence. Many people think that the current systems are too difficult and unreliable which is why we have made it one of our priorities to tackle this problem.

Ofcom has improved consumer information on broadband speeds and enhanced competition in the market but it is also essential that people are able to switch easily to exercise their choice. Today’s proposals are designed to make the process easier, more reliable and safe from slamming. We believe that the proposals would improve consumers’ experience of switching and ensure that they continue to benefit from competition."

Nearly all of Ofcom's new proposals, which we'll come to in a minute, also seek to ensure that consumers are given accurate information on the implications of switching so that they can make a more informed decision.

The regulator also seems adamant that their chosen solution be able to verify migrations via an independent third party, which would hopefully protect consumers from slamming but could also be more costly. Ofcom states that this would ultimately be, "justified by the long term consumer benefits". To better understand this we need to look at what's available today.
Current Switching Processes

'Notification of Transfer' [Mostly for Bundles]

This is a Gaining Provider Led process where the consumer only needs to contact their (new) Gaining Provider to switch. The Gaining Provider informs the (current) Losing Provider on behalf of the consumer in order to organise the transfer. The consumer receives letters from both providers confirming the planned switch before it happens. This provides an opportunity for the consumer to stop the order going ahead where they change their mind or in cases where they have no knowledge or have not given their consent to the attempted switch.

'Migration Authorisation Code' [Standalone Broadband]

This is a Losing Provider Led process which applies to broadband only. It means that if a consumer wishes to change their provider, they need to obtain a code from the Losing Provider (current ISP) and give it to the Gaining Provider. The code is then given to your new (Gaining) provider. This method is usually free and quick, when it works.

'Cease and Re-provide'

Quite simply the consumer terminates (cancels) their contract with the Losing Provider and requests a new service from the Gaining Provider. This process requires the consumer to manage the stopping and starting of their services. It carries a cost and can result in a longer downtime of your services (usually used where the above two aren't available).
As you can see there are multiple switching processes for swapping the same type of service, which Ofcom says can "distort competition" between providers (it's also painfully confusing for you and me).

"Providers who are more likely to gain customers under the relatively easy process and less likely to lose them under the relatively difficult process are likely to be at a competitive advantage relative to other providers," said Ofcom.

The regulator has therefore presented three options to replace the old methods, one of which involves effectively doing nothing and only making some incremental enhancements to the existing systems (Ofcom are almost certain not to follow this route and speak against it on several occasions). The two other/main alternatives are as follows.
Ofcom's New Migration System Options

Gaining Provider Led options (harmonised)

* Incremental enhancements to the existing Gaining Provider Led process only and expanding the process to cover all switches.

* Transfer Code option where, from a consumers point of view, the process is similar to the current 'Notification of Transfer' process but changes are focussed on addressing problems with the back end systems.

* Unique Service Number process where consumers need to use a code they find on their bill to switch provider.

* Third Party Verification process where consumers need to go through an independent third party to confirm their consent to switch.

Losing Provider Led options (harmonised)

* Transfer Code option where, from a consumers point of view, the process is similar to the current Migration Authorisation Code process but changes are focussed on addressing problems with the back end systems, improving the consumer experience of a Losing Provider Led switching process and reactive save activity is banned.

* A variation of the previous option where reactive save activity is permitted unless the consumer opts out of listening to offers.
The regulator makes no bones about the fact that it continues to support Third Party Verification, which in turn means that their preference is strongly leaning towards a more costly Gaining Provider Led (GPL) solution.

third_party_validation.gif

Ofcom's new consultation will remain open until 23rd April 2012. However, given the long delay in getting their first consultation done and the fact that a 3rd consultation may be needed, we expect that it could take awhile (our rough estimate is mid-2013) before a firm decision is reached and the new system introduced. However ISPs would most likely then have another year (2014) before it was enforced.

UPDATE 9th February 2012

Some comments have been sent our way from various pro-consumer groups.

The Communications Consumer Panel Chair, Bob Warner, said:

"[The proposals] should make changing broadband and landline suppliers simpler and more reliable. As society becomes ever more reliant on internet services, it is unacceptable that one in five consumers switching broadband provider lost their service for about a week.

If consumers are more aware of the benefits of switching, and can move between providers quickly and easily they will benefit from the enhanced competition in communications markets.

We are particularly concerned that current switching processes will not keep pace with the trend towards increased bundling of services, including pay TV services. This will become more of an issue as convergence continues and competition intensifies. We will be monitoring this issue carefully."

Adam Scorer, Director of Policy at Consumer Focus, said:

"Making switching simpler should be the goal in these types of markets, so we welcome Ofcom’s plans to make switching easier in the fixed line phone and broadband sectors. According to Ofcom’s own figures households switching broadband supplier is relatively low, often a sign of weak competition in a market. Hopefully these measures will lead higher numbers of people moving to better deals.

We strongly support the plan to move towards gaining provider led switching processes. When you switch to a new supplier, it should be responsible for making the process quick and simple - the company losing the business has few incentives to do this. When the new company handles the move it tends to bring down costs, limit disruption and encourage quick completion; all of which is good news for consumers.

Ofcom should now also look at switching bundles such as broadband, TV and mobile as they are increasingly popular amongst consumers, but have switching rates even lower than broadband."
Search ISP News
Search ISP Listings
Search ISP Reviews
 Latest UK ISP News
 Cheap BIG ISPs for 100Mbps+
Community Fibre UK ISP Logo
150Mbps
Gift: None
Virgin Media UK ISP Logo
Virgin Media £26.00
132Mbps
Gift: None
Shell Energy UK ISP Logo
Shell Energy £26.99
109Mbps
Gift: None
Plusnet UK ISP Logo
Plusnet £27.99
145Mbps
Gift: None
Zen Internet UK ISP Logo
Zen Internet £28.00 - 35.00
100Mbps
Gift: None
150,000+ Customers | View More ISPs
 Cheapest ISPs for 100Mbps+
Gigaclear UK ISP Logo
Gigaclear £17.00
200Mbps
Gift: None
YouFibre UK ISP Logo
YouFibre £19.99
150Mbps
Gift: None
Community Fibre UK ISP Logo
150Mbps
Gift: None
BeFibre UK ISP Logo
BeFibre £21.00
150Mbps
Gift: £25 Love2Shop Card
Hey! Broadband UK ISP Logo
150Mbps
Gift: None
Modest Availability | View More ISPs
Cheap BIG ISPs for 100Mbps+
Community Fibre UK ISP Logo
150Mbps
Gift: None
Virgin Media UK ISP Logo
Virgin Media £26.00
132Mbps
Gift: None
Shell Energy UK ISP Logo
Shell Energy £26.99
109Mbps
Gift: None
Plusnet UK ISP Logo
Plusnet £27.99
145Mbps
Gift: None
Zen Internet UK ISP Logo
Zen Internet £28.00 - 35.00
100Mbps
Gift: None
Large Availability | View All
Cheapest ISPs for 100Mbps+
Gigaclear UK ISP Logo
Gigaclear £17.00
200Mbps
Gift: None
YouFibre UK ISP Logo
YouFibre £19.99
150Mbps
Gift: None
Community Fibre UK ISP Logo
150Mbps
Gift: None
BeFibre UK ISP Logo
BeFibre £21.00
150Mbps
Gift: £25 Love2Shop Card
Hey! Broadband UK ISP Logo
150Mbps
Gift: None
Large Availability | View All

Helpful ISP Guides and Tips

Sponsored Links
The Top 15 Category Tags
  1. FTTP (5516)
  2. BT (3515)
  3. Politics (2538)
  4. Openreach (2297)
  5. Business (2262)
  6. Building Digital UK (2245)
  7. FTTC (2044)
  8. Mobile Broadband (1973)
  9. Statistics (1788)
  10. 4G (1664)
  11. Virgin Media (1619)
  12. Ofcom Regulation (1461)
  13. Fibre Optic (1395)
  14. Wireless Internet (1389)
  15. FTTH (1381)
Sponsored

Copyright © 1999 to Present - ISPreview.co.uk - All Rights Reserved - Terms  ,  Privacy and Cookie Policy  ,  Links  ,  Website Rules