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Digital Region customers and moving broadband service
Monday 03 February 2014 17:06:14 by Andrew Ferguson

The closure of Digital Region was announced last summer and yet it seems that many of the people using the network are still with the service. Some of the retailers are helping customers to make arrangements to move to other broadband solutions and as yet we have not heard of any news about an actual switch off date for the Digital Region network.

For those that do not know the Digital Region network in South Yorkshire is a sub-loop unbundled solution that offered VDSL2, which makes migration slightly more complicated as there will be physical work to be accomplished to get people onto a more standard ADSL2+ or Openreach FTTC based service. The broad migration options are:

  1. Order broadband from Virgin Media cable if available to an address, potentially the voice line can be left with an existing provider, or also moved to Virgin Media. No need for migration codes, simply a new order with Virgin and cancel the old Digital Region service.
  2. Leave Digital Region and join an ADSL2+ provider. Obviously ADSL2+ is going to mean slower broadband speeds, but this appears to be a method that should work, since Digital Region providers are able to obtain a MAC (Migration Authorisation Code) from Thales and this should be accepted by ADSL2+ providers who utilise the BT Wholesale network (e.g. BT, PlusNet, IDNet, Zen and others). Most ADSL2+ providers will let you upgrade to their FTTC service, so joining on ADSL2+ for a month or two and upgrading might be the smoothest path. Technical jargon calls this a SLU SMPF to LLU SMPF migration.
  3. Leave Digital Region and join an Openreach fibre based provider. This should mean you get fairly similar broadband speeds, but there is no migration path available even though you can get a MAC from your existing Digital Region provider. The means that you would effectively cease your old Digital Region service and then order a new FTTC service once the databases had updated. This means that you might have a week or two with no broadband. In jargon speak this is a cease and provide.
  4. Another is to migrate to a fully unbundled provider. Which basically means migrating both telephone line and broadband to someone like Sky or TalkTalk. This works the same as for the rest of the UK where these operators have their unbundled network, i.e. there is no MAC needed, just order the new service and Sky or TalkTalk will tell Openreach who in turn tell your old provider. A SLU SMPF to LLU MPF migration.

For Digital Region customers, it is worth a scan of our broadband offers page and full provider listings. It is worth noting that offers come and go, so if you are kicking yourself about missing a brilliant deal, keep an eye open as they often emerge again after a few weeks.

That is about as short as we can get the advice, there are many caveats, such as some providers like the Post Office may used a variety of connection methods, hence why we did not mention them in the examples. Also as bundles of phone and broadband are very common the choice for the Digital Region customer can be more complex, particularly as some Digital Region retailers included a phone service.

For Digital Region customers it is also worth checking what your existing retailer is planning to do, since it is possible one or more may decide to resell a BT Wholesale or TalkTalk Wholesale service and try to move customers en-masse.

For those that have got a Migration Authorisation Code, the format should be something like LATM1234567/1F6HT i.e. made up of:

  • 2 character alpha combination
  • 2 character alpha CSS ID
  • 7 character numeric combination
  • ‘/’
  • 5 character alpha-numeric sum check

Remember the MAC is only needed if moving to a BT Wholesale based ADSL2+ service, it is possible that a provider you are moving to may not recognise the code, but it should validate against the Openreach order systems. We expect that some ISP online order systems may not recognise the code though, since they have probably never seen one from a Digital Region customer before.

A final bit of advice, given that migrations away from Digital Region are a rarely trod path, we would suggest that you consider making sure you have enough data allowance on your mobile phone or a have a mobile data dongle to tide you over in case any migration does result in no broadband for a period of time.


Posted by KarlAustin over 3 years ago
Given every provision of DR that I know of was messed up by Openreach I'd say there's a really really good chance of people ending up with no working DSL when they migrate.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
Though installs are possibly better now that openreach staff have had more practice via their own FTTC.

New areas with Openreach FTTC are often hit and miss until people get the hang of it.
Posted by gribz over 3 years ago
This post sponsored and paid for by BT/Virgin Media?
Posted by PeterProxy over 3 years ago
I'm with Origin on DR. BT FTTC is also available at my address. As of yet i've had zero info regarding the future so can't blame anyone for leaving imo...

Plusnet look tempting.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
The post was not sponsored at all. It links and mentions to various alternatives for those leaving the Digital Region network.
Posted by New_Londoner over 3 years ago
Given the circumstances, surely it is useful to outline the options and mechanisms to activate them? It's just a shame so much of our taxpayers money had to be wasted on such an ill conceived project.
Posted by KarlAustin over 3 years ago
The project itself wasn't ill conceived at the time. The problem is that it took far too long to get in the ground, the network was badly designed (they were told by a room full of people at UKNOF) and the people running it had no clue how to deal with ISPs. Once they got those issues sorted all was good - it just took many years to get there.
Posted by JNeuhoff over 3 years ago
" It's just a shame so much of our taxpayers money had to be wasted on such an ill conceived project. "

Isn't the same true with the £1.2Billion of taxpayer's money all given to BT via a fake BDUK process?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
Perhaps the taxpayer should not fund any broadband projects at all?

Then no risk of wasting taxpayer money.
Posted by pobrown over 3 years ago
I'm with Ask4 on the DR network. The quality of the connection has always been very good and I get excellent speeds. Never any slow down even at peak time.
I have heard nothing from them however about the closure of DR and I only know about it due to reading forums and this news page. I've no idea what is going to happen in the future. I'd like to move to a BT based FTTC service, but I can't afford the potential downtime in my connection (and I can't take time off work for an engineer visit)
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
@pobrown - if it was me, then I'd get a basic broadband and voice service running on a second line then once that is working. Look at moving to the Openreach FTTC system.

Two lines one with a cabinet service and one on exchange is a reasonable backup plan if downtime would cost.
Posted by jossmer over 3 years ago
@Andrew. Thanks for your assistance and for this Post. It clearly lays out DR customs options. Hopefully this will in making the jump. Good luck all.
Posted by haydnwalker over 3 years ago
I emailed Ask4 a while ago (July 2013) and I was assured that they would keep affected customers up to date with relevant information. I haven't yet heard anything, and so haven't attempted to migrate away from them. We do have BT FTTC in our exchange, so it SHOULD be a relatively simple migration path, however, I am going to email Ask4 again for further information to see if they have any plans for the customers on DR.
Posted by 2doorsbob over 3 years ago
I'm also with ask4 and had great service considering I'm 900 metres from cab with ali in the loop .I'm hoping negotiations with DRL and alternative providers create a new migration process as the only quick process at the moment is full llu with a new Telco number and I don't want to lose my number
Posted by Sten2005 over 3 years ago
What happened to the potential Geo takeover of Digital Region ?
Posted by haydnwalker over 3 years ago
Update: I emailed Ask4, and they have said its "Business as usual" and theres no further information regarding DR being closed/bought. They re-iterated that we would have plenty of notice to migrate if necessary.
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