The mouthful that is General Condition 22 from Ofcom was announced in February 2007 and has been a welcome blessing to broadband users. The rules governing migrations have become widely known and when providers try to play loose, consumers can quote the rules back to their provider.
The rules will only remain enforceable for as long as Ofcom decides and to this end it has announced a six month extension to the rules.
Update note: 14 November 2008
Ofcom is today announcing the extension of our broadband migrations enforcement programme, which aims to ensure that customers can switch between broadband providers quickly and easily.
The general improvement in complaints figures reflected in our last update on this case has been maintained in the past three months, however we are continuing to actively monitor these complaints figures and some other areas where improvements may be required.
We have therefore extended the enforcement programme by a further six months in order to decide whether to pursue any necessary enforcement action and to continue our monitoring of the industry’s compliance with GC22.Extract from Ofcom Competition and Consumer Bulletin
There is no denying that things have improved with regards to migrations, but if Ofcom were to relax what are already fairly relaxed rules further it seems likely that providers would quickly revert to their old tactics of delaying migrations and just making life difficult for people.
The most commonly recurring problem seems to be where providers are shuffling people onto a different wholesale product at around the time someone tries to migrate away. Under current rules providers do not need to inform customers of these changes, however requiring providers to inform would benefit the consumer by keeping them in the loop and for small business users would let them plan for potential downtime.
The Ofcom Voluntary Broadband Speeds Code of Practice is rapidly approaching the end of its six month introductory phase, and while some providers have made some changes, there are still providers with millions of customers who only find out they have violated a Fair Use Policy when they contact the provider. Pro-active warnings still seem low down the to-do list. If the aim of this voluntary code was to make it easier for the consumer to compare the 'unlimited' products which invariably use traffic management, then it is failing.