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Ofcom publishes consultation to look at migrations
Thursday 16 February 2006 18:07:00 by Andrew Ferguson

Migrations in the ADSL sector have improved vastly in the last couple of years, but there is still lots of progress to be made. With the advent of unbundled products the process has become more complex, since migrating back off of a LLU based product is not always possible.

Ofcom has launched a consultation period that runs until the 28th April 2006. This consultation will cover both broadband and telephone services, particularly now that a number of providers are providing bundles. Ofcom has identified some 160 switching processes, so this area is far from simple, and the priority for dealing with the different processes will be based partly on the feedback from this process. To read the various Ofcom documents on this consultation visit www.ofcom.org.uk/consult/condocs/migrations/.

The consultation period will also cover the issue of mis-selling, which in an ever increasing UK telecoms market is a subject very prone to exploitation. One area Ofcom is looking into is how an losing provider uses information they obtain, in essence Ofcom states that a provider is not allowed to make use of knowledge gained during a migration to try and persuade a customer to stay. Conversely Ofcom is considering the use of a third party, to try and avoid a gaining provider engaging in mis-selling and slamming.

In the broadband market, migrations are generally working very well, but there are growing calls from consumers for it to be compulsory for an ISP to provide a MAC code when asked. One problem seen time and time again, is where an ISP and a customer enter into a dispute, and it can take many weeks before things like the Alternate Dispute Resolution schemes kick into effect. Even when that has happened you may be looking at another long spell where nothing seems to happen. With the increase in importance of broadband connections, taking two or three months to resolve a dispute can prove expensive and very disruptive to people. If there was an easy way for people to migrate, and any contractual disputes to be handled in a more traditional time frame after this, many people would be happier. This would give consumers a lot more power, and might encourage providers to not take its customers for granted.

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