Broadband users “scared to switch”

A third of broadband customers are scared of switching provider because of the tortuous migration process, according to new research.

Broadband users

Even though one in four broadband subscribers is looking to switch provider, only 13% did so in 2007, according to The comparison site claims that customers are resigned to staying put because they’re afraid something will go wrong with the transfer.

Even though Ofcom introduced new legislation last year that forced broadband providers to supply the crucial Mac code to departing customers, those rules don’t apply to fully Local Loop Unbundled (LLU) providers – those who take both the phone and broadband lines. And it’s these providers that are accounting for the majority of today’s switchers, according to Broadbandchoices.

“Ofcom hasn’t kept pace with the speed at which the industry has been unbundled,” says Michael Phillips, product director at Broadbandchoices. “[The new Mac rules] haven’t really scratched the surface. The best deals are coming from the LLU providers – most people are switching to Sky or TalkTalk. TalkTalk doesn’t even ask for a Mac code.”

Phillips says the problem isn’t so much moving to the LLU providers as attempting to leave them, with customers often hit with £58 “cease and reprovide” charges to move back to a traditional ADSL provider. “Many people will say ‘If it costs me money to switch back to BT, why would I leave TalkTalk?’,” Phillips claims.

“We need a level playing field for effective competition in the broadband market.”

Phillips also believes that ISPs should be responsible for transferring customers from one provider to another, rather than the consumer, as is the case in the utilities market. “The biggest problem is there’s no clear process,” he says. “The onus is on the customer to do the administration. There’s all sorts of details that customers can’t be expected to understand.”

Ofcom says its regulations have made it easier for people to move. “Mac codes can be used in the vast majority of moves between broadband providers and the process has delivered significant benefits for consumers wanting to shop around for the best broadband deal,” the regulator claims in a statement sent to PC Pro.

“Ofcom is reviewing current migrations processes to establish whether there is a case for a single, unified switching process which can be used by consumers when moving between providers of a range of telecoms services based across a range of platforms and technologies.

“We plan to publish a consultation document on how we intend to take this work forward later in the year.”

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