Feeds

'Passport' system to make switching telco easier

Consultation kicks off

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Ofcom is thinking of introducing a simple "passport" system that would make switching telcos and ISPs easier.

Publishing its long-awaited consultation into switching and mis-selling, the communications watchdog wants to ensure the process involved in moving between different firms does not dissuade consumers from opting for new providers.

At the same time, Ofcom doesn't want a free-for-all that would expose punters to mis-selling.

The reason appears simple enough. Ofcom spent most of last year trying to improve competition in the telecoms sector. And with the advent of broadband-based services such as video on demand and VoIP, consumers are faced with more operators providing more services.

But this increased choice is wasted if switching providers is cumbersome and time-consuming. That's why Ofcom wants to ensure there are "no obstacles in the way of customers who choose to move between companies and/or products".

"The process for switching behind the scenes should be swift and efficient, and enable customers to move from one company and/or product to another with no interruptions or problems," it said in a consultation document published today.

At the same time, consumers need to be protected from "dishonest sales and marketing behaviour" that might see punters switched to rival operators and services without their consent (known as slamming).

According to Ofcom, the processes currently in place are inefficient and complicated and the regulator predicts that unless something is done, this situation is likely to get worse.

Although Ofcom has kicked off the consultation, it appears to be keen on a "single, uniform process" for switching, similar to one used by other utility operators. If adopted, customers would hold the key to the process.

In essence, punters could only be switched once they hand a code to the company to which they're moving to, similar to the current MAC process, which enables broadband punters to switch ISPs.

However, the MAC system is flawed. Because punters have to obtain their MAC code from the company, they're leaving it to them to hand it to the company they're joining. Consumers have long complained that some ISPs have been reluctant to hand over these MAC codes, effectively stopping any transfer dead in its tracks.

Instead, Ofcom is proposing that customers should have easy access to their "code" (it might have to be printed on all letters and bills, for example) without having to ask their existing provider for it. That way they wouldn't need to contact the company they're leaving to switch providers.

While such moves are encouraging, it's clear that adopting a workable system will be no piece of cake. Ofcom points out that switching customers is devilishly complicated.

Its own research has found that BT has some 160 possible switching processes in place, which highlights the difficulty of coming up with a single, industry wide solution to the problem.

The closing date for responses to the consultation is April 28.®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Mighty Blighty broadbanders beg: Let us lay cable in BT's, er, ducts
Complain to Ofcom that telco has 'effective monopoly'
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
Yahoo! blames! MONSTER! email! OUTAGE! on! CUT! CABLE! bungle!
Weekend woe for BT as telco struggles to restore service
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
Ofcom tackles complaint over Premier League footie TV rights
Virgin Media: UK fans pay the most for the fewest matches
FCC: Gonna need y'all to cough up $1.5bn to put broadband in schools
Kids need more fiber, says Wheeler, and you'll pay for it
prev story

Whitepapers

Driving business with continuous operational intelligence
Introducing an innovative approach offered by ExtraHop for producing continuous operational intelligence.
The total economic impact of Druva inSync
Examining the ROI enterprises may realize by implementing inSync, as they look to improve backup and recovery of endpoint data in a cost-effective manner.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Simplify SSL certificate management across the enterprise
Simple steps to take control of SSL across the enterprise, and recommendations for a management platform for full visibility and single-point of control for these Certificates.