Broadband News

New migration rules off to rocky start

February 14th 2007 was meant to be a milestone in the broadband industry, with consumers being given a lot more power to change providers and hopefully avoid weeks without a broadband connection when trying to change provider.

Alas, while the BBC reported anecdotal evidence that the new rules have sped things up, this success does not apply to all providers. It seems some providers initially had their own interpretation of the rules, and in the case of operators using unbundling, the advice to consumers has not always been straightforward.

The provider that has shown up the most in our inbox has been Supanet, who were wanting to charge people a £50 fee for providing a migration authorisation code (MAC). A number of people did complain to Ofcom on the basis that this charge was against the new rules, and towards the end of last week it appears the provider relented and is now issuing the MAC without charging consumers.

A number of other issues have arisen in the last few weeks, but not to the same extent as Supanet. Some of the issues have been:

  • Problems contacting ISP to request a MAC when their connection is not working. Providers are required to support two methods for obtaining a MAC, and it would seem sensible for one of these not to be via an online portal.
  • Customers wishing to leave, but the process to request a MAC is worded to imply customer agrees to paying outstanding fees. While people do have an obligation to pay outstanding debts to a provider, there are times when people are in dispute with a provider and want to dispute the amounts owed.
  • Providers saying they can issue a MAC, but there is no point as others will not accept it. Under the new rules if you have a MAC the provider is obliged to make use of it if they can, and if moving to a product where a MAC is of no use they are still required to make the move as smooth as possible.
  • One or two cases of a consumer wanting to change ISP but since the ISP was already changing the underlying wholesale provider, a migration was made more complex.
  • We have seen a couple of cases where an old provider has mistakenly put someone who has since left onto a bulk migration list, causing a consumer to be moved without their consent. This would suggest failures in how some providers create these bulk migration lists, and a failure by wholesale providers to verify whether the customer is currently with the provider requesting the change.

Overall, the new rules are an improvement for the consumer, but further progress can be made, particularly in the area of unbundled (LLU) connections, where moving between products is still not seamless. Hopefully the industry will work together to improve the problems areas, rather than wait for more draconian measures to be implemented.


Draconian measures from OFCOM? That has to be a joke. This waste of space does precious little to protect internet users from the excesses of ISP's. For example, the recent FUP clampdowns where ISPs have NO clear stated levels of usage and NO method provided for customers to monitor thier usage. The above story just goes to show how little OFCOM is feared by ISP's.

IMHO OFCOM is pretty much a tame lapdog of the large ISP's and should be scrapped in favout of a PROPER regulator with real powers

  • warweezil
  • over 14 years ago

Have to agree. Took me about 3 months to get away from pipex. They gave me a mac then issued a cease at same time so i couldn't use it(this was after the new rules came into play aswell, and when i mentioned this to them, they ignored me)...and i ended up having to pay for reconnection to a real isp that provides what we call a real service unlike pipex.

Would there really be any difference if ofcom didnt exist atall?(with regards to broadband only)

  • evilbond
  • over 14 years ago

Warweezil - what it really needs is for users to vote with their wallet, and to select an ISP who offers real value for money, and I don't mean for it to just be cheap - I mean that in return for a fair price you get exactly what you have contracted for, rather than excuses for it being oversubscribed (slow),unreliable (no attention to the quality of the network), and indifferent support (call centre monkeys reading from prepared scripts)

  • babylon5rk
  • over 13 years ago

I have been with Freedom2surf for 4 years and switched to Broadband with no hassle for approx 2 years

  • brusher
  • over 13 years ago

Evilbond would suggest that even if you asked for a Mac code you are under no obligation to use it. Therefor Pipex is in breach of contact for not providing you with notice to end your account. Small claims courts should get you all your money back you lost due to there breach IMHO.

  • TAZZ69
  • over 13 years ago

aksed orange for mac code and got told that sky will not accepet it as they do not work together. And orange said it will charge me if i want a mac code again.

  • sarahhse
  • over 13 years ago

My cousin was dissatisfied with the service she was recieving from AOL.She requested a MAC code,and was promised one within 5 days(as per current legislation)via Email.Her internet was then promptly disconnected preventing her from recieving it.When she contacted AOL by telephone she was told,the disconnection must have been due to a system error,therefore and I quote "there is not a hope in hell now of getting a Mac code".She is now left with a cease and provide process which will probably take upwards of 10 days.So much for new legislation and a seamless prcess.

  • atrum_umbra
  • over 13 years ago

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