Ofcom today proposed plans to make it easier for customers to transfer between broadband providers.

The communications regulator has received complaints from consumers who have found it difficult to obtain a Migration Authorisation Code (MAC) from their current broadband supplier. A MAC is required to switch broadband providers; without a MAC, consumers find it more difficult to change provider and may find themselves without a broadband service while the transfer goes through.

The MAC process is part of a voluntary industry initiative. This means that providers who make it difficult for their customers to obtain a MAC are unlikely to be in breach of any formal obligations, limiting Ofcom’s ability to take action to protect consumers.

Ofcom therefore proposes to introduce new regulations that will apply to all providers of telecommunications services, which will make it mandatory for broadband service providers to supply customers with MACs on request and to comply with a specific process for doing so.

Ofcom will also work with industry to develop a process for customers to obtain a MAC from another source if their own broadband provider is unable or unwilling to comply.

Ofcom has also received complaints from consumers who have tried to order a new broadband service – for example, when moving home – only to be told that they are unable to do so because there is already a broadband connection on that line.

The deadline for responses to Ofcom’s proposals is 5th October 2006.