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Ofcom to regulate switching ISP

Wants to be the MAC daddy

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Ofcom announced proposals today to make the often knotty process of switching broadband provider more consumer-friendly.

The plan is to force ISPs to supply Migration Authorisation Codes (MACs) at the punter's request. The codes are needed to ensure continuity of connection when switching providers, but are currently dished out at the firms' discretion.

The move has been motivated by increasing numbers of complaints to the regulator from frustrated consumers left stranded by the current regime.

Ofcom plans to work with industry to thrash out the details of a standard process for obtaining MACs, and action it could take when the rules aren't obeyed. Regulators want broadband wholesalers help sort out problems where resellers have trouble facilitating MAC requests.

The move was welcomed today by price comparison site uSwitch. Broadband product manager Chris Williams (no relation) said: "From the consumer’s point of view, Ofcom’s proposal to make the current voluntary practice of providing a MAC code compulsory for all broadband providers is great news."

During the recent collapse of e7even customers complained at being forced to sign up to a particular new provider, and its failure to supply MACs.

Williams said: "We hope that their recommendation is implemented as soon as possible to enable customers to take full advantage of the current broadband price war."

Ofcom is inviting responses to the idea until October 5. If all goes well, an industry-designed mandatory process will enter consultation in six months. The full documentation can be found here. ®

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