Ofcom makes it easier to switch broadband

The new rules will make it easier and cheaper to switch broadband companies

Changing broadband providers is set to become much easier after new legislation is introduced on Valentine's Day. The new rules will stop broadband companies charging customers for wanting to switch suppliers and will remove delays from the process.

Any broadband firms that make it difficult for customers wanting to leave and move their broadband account could risk heavy fines from watchdog Ofcom .

Most problems involve so-called MAC codes, or Migration Authorisation Codes. These codes are issued to departing customers by the broadband provider they wish to leave. The MAC is passed to the new provider by the customer. The process identifies their connection, so the new provider can locate it and swap it over.

From tomorrow, all broadband companies must supply MAC codes to customers within five days. It will also become illegal to charge for issuing the codes. Previously, the process of obtaining your MAC code could take weeks and numerous email or phone conversations with the broadband provider.

"Moving broadband supplier should be like gas and electricity," said Steve Weller, head of communications services at uSwitch. "You do not go without those for two weeks when you switch."

According to price comparison website uSwitch.com , some 234,000 broadband customers switch supplier every month. Of those, 83 per cent said the process was quick and easy, which leaves around 40,000 broadband users experiencing problems every month.