Ofcom after much deliberation and various impact assessments has arrived at the conclusion that a switching process known as Harmonised GPL would best serve the UK broadband and telephone consumer.
The GPL stands for Gaining Provider Led, i.e. the firm you are moving to should hand hold you through the switching process. For many people who switch providers either broadband or telephone this is very close to what happens now, the process though will include various enhancements to help the consumer and will see the MAC (Migration Authorisation Code) process probably vanish in late 2014.
- Gaining Provider Led Notification of Transfer (GPL NoT), 75%
e.g. switching to a fully unbundled service
- Losing Provider Led Migration Authorisation Code (LPL MAC), 7%
e.g. switch between BT Retail ADSL2+ and Zen Internet
- Cease & Reprovide (C&R), 18%
e.g. leaving a full LLU service, or moving when no MAC providedCurrent ratio of switching system used in broadband market place
The fact that the MAC process is used so little may surprise some, but remember a big part of this is the rapid growth of TalkTalk and Sky with their full LLU networks that do not require a MAC and also the use of cease and provide by some providers to provision services.
The Ofcom document describing the reasoning for the new process is not an easy read at over four hundred pages, but our short summary for what is planned follows:
Switching process initial implementation
Areas to be addressed in the second phase
Slamming, where a new provider moves your service without your consent, will be of immediate concern to many, but Ofcom research suggests that this is not as prevalent as it used to be and that the Notification of Transfer letters do generally work. The key aim is to reduce the complexity of switching down to one common process, no matter what actual hardware you are using in the telephone exchange.
These changes only apply to voice and broadband (ADSL2+ and VDSL2/FTTC) over the Openreach copper local loop, which means that Virgin Media cable customers are unaffected and Ofcom considers the FTTP market too small to include in the new system yet. If take-up and roll-out of FTTP increases significantly the position on FTTP may be reconsidered.
Our guide to broadband switching is not out of date just yet, there is a consultation that Ofcom is now running until October 2013, and with implementation expected to take around 9 to 12 months it is likely that not until late 2014 will there be any actual changes in how people migrate between broadband services.