Broadband Migration and The Olympics

If you are thinking of changing your broadband provider in time for working at home during the Olympics, then maybe you should start making plans earlier rather than later.

A while ago I wrote a blog about changing broadband suppliers and the fact that this has been made far easier since the introduction of MACs (Migration Access Codes). My own experience with my own computer support clients is that things do usually seem to go smoothly (unless Talk Talk is the previous provider). However, a recent survey from Thinkbroadband shows that although this is the case for most changeovers, there are some that are very protracted and leave the user without a broadband connection for a considerable length of time. The survey showed the following gaps between service provision:

  • Seamless changeover – 42%
  • Under an hour – 17%
  • 1 to 24 hours – 14%
  • 1 to 7 days – 7%
  • 1 to 2 weeks – 6%
  • 2 weeks to a month – 10%
  • More than a month – 4%

Clearly, if your changeover falls into one of the the first three categories (and 73% do), then you will be alright for working at home. Most of us could probably live for 24 hours without broadband (even if it feels like we can’t survive it when it happens).

This survey shows, though, that as many as 1 in 4 changeovers (27%) are not achieved without a hiatus of more than one full day. This may be bearable for domestic use, but if your employer insists that you have a working broadband connection during the Olympics then this could become a serious problem.

With my first-class degree in Stating The Obvious, I can authoritatively recommend starting the transfer process sooner rather than later if this is something you are going to have to do before the summer.

Map of broadband reception in ClaphamThe main reason for the protracted delays appears to be that telecomms contracts have become increasingly complicated in several ways such as:

  • The growing popularity of “bundles” (contracts that include the provision of broadband, TV, and telephone services).
  • The several different infrastructures that are now available for delivering the services (eg cable, ADSL, FTTC, FTTP).
  • The several different contracting possibilities (eg does your provider have to rent your voice telephone provision from BT and then rent it out to you?)

The government is planning to introduce new rules to govern migration procedures, but these won’t arrive until next year. In the meantime, if your current broadband provision is supplied separate from your telephone service (in terms of supplier, not physical phone line), and all you are changing is your broadband supplier, then you are likely to fall into the happy group who experience no interruption to their broadband service when they change provider.

If your situation is more complicated than simply changing a broadband provider, then the advice from ThinkBroadband is to discuss your situation carefully with your new provider so that they can advise what you need to do to achieve the desired result. ThinkBroadband have a migration tool on their website that may help to clarify your own situation.

If you find yourself caught out with no broadband provision, or if an intermittent broadband connection is causing you problems that will be unacceptable when working from home, then a partial solution might be to buy a mobile broadband plan. This consists of a USB device (very similar in appearance to a USB “memory stick”) that contains a SIM card (such as you would use in a mobile phone). You can buy mobile broadband from your existing mobile provider either on a “pay monthly” contract or “pay as you go”. Be warned, though, that the “pay as you go” may not be as attractive as it sounds as you have to use the data allocation within set time limits. It’s not so much “pay as you go” as “pay as time passes” – ie not very different from a monthly contract except more expensive. Neat trick,eh? Bit like buying a paperback from W H Smith only to find that it disappears from your bookshelf if you don’t read it.

Mobile broadband provision is a lot more expensive and a lot slower than provision via a cable or the telephone lines but it has the great advantage of being a backup that is independent of your normal broadband provision. It’s very quick and easy to set up and you can also use it to give you internet access on a laptop or tablet computer when away from your own wifi network. A typical “plan” would include the USB “dongle” and would cost about £10 for 1gb of download per month. You couldn’t use this for downloading movies or other such heavy use, but it would almost certainly be enough to connect to a company system for working on emails, spreadsheets, presentations, WP documents etc.

If you’ve got a tablet PC then you may already have the SIM and a plan that you can simply connect to your home desktop or laptop when the need arises (assuming you have the USB “dongle” into which the SIM is placed).

It’s now just three months to the start of the Olympics, so if you are planning a broadband move, it might be wise to get the ball rolling before the end of May.