Ofcom publishes Deloitte study into a single migration process
Ofcom has published a study carried out by Deloitte which looks into the possible ways a single migrations process could be arrived at for the various communications services in the UK including broadband, fixed line, mobile and cable services. With the rapid growth in bundles combining one or more of these services, easier migrations will be welcomed by many consumers.
The Deloitte study, while lengthy, does not set out a single path forward, but rather evaluates several different methods leading Ofcom to the stage of requesting comments on the report. Any responses from interested parties need to be submitted no later than 5pm on Friday 15th February to Gavin Daykin at Ofcom.
The background is that currently the fixed line and calls part of the market is an area where slamming (switching a customers service without knowledge or consent) is perhaps too easy. The broadband MAC process is dependent on the losing provider playing ball. IPStream, DataStream and fully or shared unbundled services lead to confusion with consumers not really knowing which actual wholesale product they are on (in some cases a broadband provider will even alter a consumers wholesale product without the consumers knowledge). At the end of the day, this all leads to consumer frustration which can mean people stay with a communications provider they are unhappy with, or lose a service for weeks while the tangled web is sorted out.
Four potential mechanisms were considered in the report as a way of making migrations simpler for the consumer.
- ICP Process: A variant of the existing MAC process which is Gaining Provider (GP) led and includes a simple third party intermediary to act as the communication facilitator between the GP and the Losing Provider (LP);
- A Multi MAC process which continues to be LP led, where the customer is responsible for obtaining an authorisation code for each of the products they intend to switch, including broadband access, fixed line access and mobile access. In scenarios where the customer wants to switch to or from a bundle, they would need to provide the GP with all 3 codes (for a bundle with three products);
- A single code process: Where the customer would be assigned a single code which would be associated with their premises and where all their communications products and services would be associated with this code. The customer would use this code in a similar way in which the MAC and PAC is used in order to authorise and facilitate their migration request; and
- A 3rd party data hub process: Where in the absence of a single data repository of all network assets then a third party centralised data hub would facilitate the data transfers required for a migration between the LP, GP and access provider via numerous dedicated interfaces.
Making migrations simpler and faster between the myriad of products is welcome, though this needs to be balanced against making it too easy for a disreputable company or sales person to sign someone up for a service without their consent. We are not going to see changes to the migration market quickly. To come up with a process that the industry will adopt without having to be dragged through the courts is never going to be fast.