Broadband News

Migrations - compulsory or not?

Migrations between the different xDSL providers is a hot topic at present. Largely due to the increase in the number of unbundled providers where at present migrations away from them is still largely a manual process that not all service providers handle. The Times has an interesting article, which covers some reaction BT Wholesale has had on the issue.

The article claims that BT is 'vigorously resisting a move aimed at making it easier for Britain’s ten million broadband households to switch providers', but the reality as you read the item is a little different. Ofcom has been consulting on the migration processes, and a number of proposals are on the table, one is to make it compulsory for all xDSL providers to issue a migration authorisation code (MAC), and another is that the issuing of the codes be taken away from the provider and passed to the wholesaler of the service. It is this later one that BT Wholesale are objecting to on the grounds that it would not be able to verify the end-user, risking an increase in mis-selling. Additionally providing a migration call centre would add to its costs.

We feel there is some merit to the idea of BT Wholesale issuing the migration code, as consumers who are in dispute cannot be held to ransom, but if it were to make slamming easier to achieve then the merit is rapidly eroded. As BT suggests perhaps adopting a compulsory issuing of a MAC from the service provider would seem to be a more realistic first step towards giving the consumer more rights. A common complaint from service providers is that this will mean people can leave their ISP while owing money for service, or deferred activation/hardware costs. While this will mean service providers having to chase consumers for money via existing debt collection routes, it will stop ongoing disputes from keeping people on a provider they would rather leave. The eventual result may be that providers work harder to keep the consumer happy.

The market is further confused by the presence of companies who buy services from BT Wholesale, and then repackage these to sell onto small resellers who otherwise could not afford to gain a foothold in the broadband market place. In these cases an end-user may have several companies between themselves and BT Wholesale.

We hope that Ofcom and the providers can arrive at something that will make migration much easier for the consumer. Far too often legislation appears to get put in place that serves the needs of the providers without considering the individual end-user.


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