Broadband customers will find it easier to switch to another provider under new rules proposed by the telecoms regulator.
More than 11 million customers in the UK are already signed up to a high-speed internet service – but Ofcom says thousands have complained about problems moving from one broadband company to another.
Although many people have changed provider without a problem, some companies have dragged their heels in providing the Migration Authorisation Codes (MACs) that you need in order to switch.
Ofcom has also received complaints from consumers who’ve tried to order a new broadband service – for example, when moving home – only to be told that they can’t because there’s already a broadband connection on that line.
Under Ofcom’s proposals, companies would have to give MACs to customers on request. Customers would also be able to get a MAC from another source if their own broadband provider failed to provide it. The watchdog also wants the industry to sort out technical problems which prevent people switching when they move house.
A spokesman said: ‘There is evidence that people have got so fed up with waiting for this MAC which their provider is not supplying them with that they are just giving up and staying where they are.
‘There is a lot of competition in the broadband market but if customers aren’t able to exercise their choice then competition is of limited value.’
Which? broadband expert Ceri Stanaway said: ‘Problems with switching are one of the main causes of complaints about broadband companies; in Which?’s latest broadband survey 19 per cent of people who’d moved to a new broadband provider found the switching process too slow.
‘People shouldn’t feel trapped into staying with a company just because the ISP makes it too hard for them to leave, and we wholeheartedly welcome any proposals that would help take the stress out of switching.’
Ofcom’s proposals are subject to a public consultation which closes in October.