Switching broadband providers still difficult

6 May 2010

A third of broadband users still experience delays when switching despite regulation introduced to make it easier.

Research by moneysupermarket.com found that one in three consumers who changed provider last year had to wait for their MAC or Migration Authorisation Code - the code needed by your new supplier to ensure your broadband service can be seamlessly transmitted across.

Telecoms regulator Ofcom introduced rules in 2007, stating that broadband firms must issue customers with a MAC within five days of a request. It’s then valid for 30 days.

But moneysupermarket.com says that 4% of respondents to its survey gave up on switching providers due to MAC problems.

Mike Wilson, broadband manager at moneysupermarket.com, says: "Ofcom rules on MAC codes have been in place for some time, but delays and complications clearly remain a huge issue for those who want to change provider.

"I can't see why delays occur; the providers should have a simple process in place. The fact that customers give up on swapping to a better deal solely because of MAC problems is not acceptable, people are loosing out on big savings.”

Moneysupermarket says internet users could save up to £143 a year by switching to a better broadband deal. The survey also reveals 82% of broadband users have not swapped provider in the past 12 months, meaning a huge amount of people could be missing out on big savings.

"There are some great deals on the market at the moment and people need to shop around, it also pays to consider bundling all your services – this could result in significant savings of around £230 on your landline, broadband and TV package,” says Wilson.

“Haggling for a better deal is also worth while. 7% of those polled said they negotiated a better deal by asking for a MAC code and threatening to leave."

How to switch broadband:

•    Check you’re not tied in to a contract with your current provider.

•    Use a comparison site such as broadbandgenie.co.uk or uswitch.com to find the best deal. A bundle comprising of broadband, phone and digital TV might work out cheaper.

•    If you’re switching between broadband services, which are run over BT lines, ask your current provider for your MAC code. All services except Virgin Media, which delivers broadband via a cable, work this way.

•    Give the MAC to your new provider and they’ll arrange the switchover and installation.

•    If you’re switching from any broadband service to Virgin, you’ll need to stop your current service and arrange for Virgin to install a cable to your home. About 50% of the population live in a cable area.


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