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Ofcom picks Harmonised GPL switching process for broadband migrations
Thursday 08 August 2013 11:54:24 by Andrew Ferguson

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 provided
Current 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

  • Make it compulsory to use seamless transfer processes (Simultaneous provide), with better safeguards to avoid the phone service moving but broadband failing. A new SIM2 process from Openreach may help in this area.
  • Provision of better information about the costs and other implications of switching when people are signing up to new services.
  • Implement a 'Record of Consent' where details of how you consented to the switch should be kept for 12 months. Already the case for voice services, but to be extended to broadband too.
  • Mandate that only exact matches on line identification for working line transfers result in any changes. This is intended to help reduce the number of wrong switch-overs where some line data is wrong when one person moves out of a property and a new person moves in.
  • Mandate best practise techniques are followed with notification letters.

Areas to be addressed in the second phase

  • Mandate the use of the Cancel Other Process: i.e. you get a letter saying you appear to be moving your service and giving you the chance to cancel if you did not authorise the move.
  • Make Openreach CLI visible to all: Ensure operators can determine easily what operator the line is with, as some providers have to assume its full LLU if lookups fail currently.
  • Mandate exact match for line identification as part of all service switches.

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.

Comments

Posted by herdwick over 3 years ago
I wonder if the providers are up to it - we already have GPL responsibility for fixing tags that doesn't seem totally effective - asking end users to "phone BT" - and ISPs flaking out with excuses like "the MAC is invalid" on transfers that don't even require a MAC.
Posted by Michael_Chare over 3 years ago
I would like to see Ofcom stop the practice of charging for terminating an ADSL service. You don't have to pay for terminating a telephone line, why should you have to pay for terminating an ADSL service.
Posted by mpellatt over 3 years ago
"Mandate that only exact matches on line identification for working line transfers result in any changes".

That's the system broken, then. Ever tried a number port to SIP where Openretch have totally the wrong postcode against the line ?? And absolutely no process for getting it corrected. Their line is "our database is correct". Even though blatantly in Northfleet had a postcode in Meopham. Not even the same exchange.

Yes, I am bitter. It took me over 6 months to sort.
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