Ofcom slow to act, or delayed by lobbying?
The balancing act between consumer freedoms and allowing a commercially competitive industry to thrive without being buried under red tape is a delicate balancing act. A Guardian article on Wednesday covers a letter sent to Maria Miller by Which!, Consumer Futures, TalkTalk and Three to stop challenges from well funded large corporations that delay consumer friendly decisions.
An example of the broadband migration process and the length of time to implement was raised, and the article suggests that it is seven years after the first proposal. We disagree on the exact length of time, as 2007 was when General Condition 22 came into effect which helped with migrations between BT Wholesale providers, but really did nothing for full LLU services. The new migration system which will do away with the MAC and work for full LLU connections started back in 2010 and if the timeline suggested by the OTA2 is correct will not be running until June 2015 and we are astonished that FTTP services are ignored, this will confuse those consumers who live in native GEA-FTTP areas and gives BT Retail scope to play all manner of retention games to retain customers.
Five years to implement a new set of rules if far too long, almost one third of the time that broadband has been available in the UK. Whether this is a slow civil service pace Ofcom or lobbying is hard to know, there have been numerous consultations on the switching process and still more working group meetings before it gets implemented.
There is also a distinct irony with TalkTalk complaining, as they have an ongoing complaint about FTTC based broadband pricing, and while switching between two full LLU providers is possible via a MPF Migrate Order, those switching from Sky (the other main full LLU provider) online find that they are told a new line will be ordered with a new telephone number. Now it may be the case that if people phone TalkTalk sales and order over the phone they can start a migrate order, but then people miss out on the numerous vouchers and cash back schemes.
Ofcom for a good many years has been seen in the telecoms sector as existing just to regulate BT and to whittle away their dominance in various sectors, but at the consumer level while BT Retail is still the largest there are a number of operators that need to be controlled. Is Ofcom up to the challenge?