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Swapping broadband providers should be a lot easier following the introduction of a new migration process backed by BT Wholesale and the industry's major players.

The Migration Authorisation Code (MAC) process should mean that punters can sign-up to new providers with the minimum of hassle. Up until now, punters have often faced lengthy delays with some ISPs reluctant to lose customers, while others have experienced disruption to their service.

This new process means that those problems should not crop up, with the downtime between switching providers predicted to be less than an hour.

As part of MAC, 16 service providers - including AOL, BT, Bulldog, Nildram, THUS, Virgin.net and Wanadoo UK - which together account for around 70 per cent of the UK's DSL market, have signed up to a new voluntary code of practice to make migration easier.

Under the new MAC process, punters looking to change providers ask their current ISP for an "authority code" which they hand to their new service provider as proof that the move can go ahead. The new ISP can then arrange with BT Wholesale for the service to be transferred.

Said Richard Sweet, chair of the working group behind the code of practice: "This demonstrates that broadband service providers can regulate themselves, without the need for Ofcom intervention. Whilst we all want our customers to stay, we believe there needs to be a proper and seamless process to allow customers to move, should they choose to do so."

The MAC process does not support migrations between ADSL and cable modem-based services.

Full details of the new code can be found here.

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