Ofcom confirms changes to migration processes
Back in August 2013 Ofcom announced its choice of switching process that it sees as fit for the 21st Century, and now after feedback there are a few tweaks and actual implementation looks set to start. As things stand there is no need to panic, if you were going to use MAC to switch provider you still need to get one, the timescale is not totally clear yet, as the first meeting of an industry working group to thrash out the actual implementation will not take place until 22nd January 2014.
The new migration system will arrive in two phases an initial Gaining Provider Led Notification of Transfer (GPL NoT) process must be in place nine months from today. This GPL NoT system is pretty much the same as what happens now if you switch your line rental between two voice providers and leave the broadband with an existing provider. The next stage which has a timescale of 12 to 18 months is to implement an harmonised GPL system with NoT+. We are sure people are now truly confused so what follows is our attempt at a simple version of what we are expecting based on the Ofcom documents.
- When you choose to switch broadband, telephone or both to initiate the movement you should contact the provider you want to move to (Ofcom call this provider the gaining provider).
- To avoid slamming, the gaining provider must keep a record of your consent to move to them for 12 months.
- The gaining provider submits the required orders, and this triggers notification to your old provider, who will then issue a Notification of Transfer letter.
- The notification of transfer letter must include:
- Exact details of any early termination charges due
- List of communications services that will be affected by the transfer, and any services the provider will still be providing you with that are unaffected.
- It should include the date of the transfer, a requirement for the expected time of day of the transfer has been dropped, due to the inability to get an accurate time from Openreach.
- The letter must include a statement to confirm the consumer does not need to contact the old provider to cancel the contract.
- The letter will be in the form of a paper letter through the post or another 'durable medium'. It can only be issued electronically if the customer has explicitly consented to this medium as part of their original order or subsequent communication.
- Where a bundle of services is being moved providers are must co-ordinate the switching so both services are moved together to minimise loss of service.
- When taking over services at a new property, providers can only proceed once they have an exact match for the address.
How this all operates in practice should become apparent as the working group progresses. This changes affect any telephone or broadband service that operates over the Openreach local loop be it shared LLU or fully unbundled, though the GEA-FTTP products appear to have been excluded with a decision to revisit them once the volume of GEA-FTTP is larger. Virgin Media cable telephone and broadband are thus also excluded.
These changes have been a long time in arriving the process started in 2010, and while the outcome looks likely to be a simpler process rather than the complex matrix of switching options now, we do expect there to be a period of confusion from both consumers and call centre staff.