In line with its Equivalence of Input (EoI) obligations, the regulator is insisting that BT scraps the current system – which has worked perfectly well for the past four years – in favour of the so-called Simultaneous Provide (SIM provide) process. This is used mainly to ensure that new customers of all service providers i.e. consumers who are buying new connections – are treated equally in terms of how their connection is prioritized and scheduled.
BT is planning to switch over to the SIM provide process at the end of March. Entanet believes that this is almost certain to lead to chaos and is calling on Ofcom to suspend or reverse its directive.
Entanet’s Broadband Business Development Manager, Carol Davies, says: “The current system has worked perfectly well up to now. It makes switching off ISDN and switching on broadband very simple as the whole job can be done a single day. There are no complications and no hold ups. The SIM provide process is notorious in the industry for its complexity and ineffectiveness. It takes too long and there are often delays before lines and services are installed and switched on. If the same process is used when customers switch from ISDN to broadband, we fear that chaos will ensue and BT – as well as service providers – will have a lot of very disgruntled customers on their hands.”
As well as being unsuitable for ISDN to broadband switchovers, Davies notes, there is no roll back functionality, as there is with the current process, so customers could be left without service for a period of time if broadband connections can’t be sustained when their ISDN service is switched off. There are even suggestions that charges could be applied to put the customers service back to ISDN.
Other service providers have also expressed concern about the plans. Entanet is encouraging other ISPs to add their voices to its own and make their views known to Ofcom. “If there is enough pressure, Ofcom will have to reconsider its plans and when it does that it will hopefully see sense and withdraw its directive to BT. To insist that the SIM Provide process is used for customers switching from ISDN to broadband is just asking for trouble. If Ofcom continues down this road Entanet will have to stop offering ISDN conversions to broadband and it will be businesses that suffer as a result.”