DSL customers benefit from new churn system

Consumers wanting to change from one ISP to another could soon be able to do so with less fuss and at a lower cost, following Telstra Wholesale’s launch of a one-step customer churn process for DSL users.

Previously, consumers wanting to change DSL service providers had to request a disconnection fee from their existing service provider and then reconnect with their new ISP.

Telstra Wholesale’s new system aims at simplifying this course of action by allowing end users transferring between ISPs who already provide services across Telstra’s network to lodge one request with their new provider which addresses the entire process. Telstra Wholesale public affairs manager Liz Jurman said there were lots of reasons for Telstra Wholesale to launch the new customer churn system, including more efficiency and cheaper costs in transferring end users for its wholesale customers. It also simplifies the administration behind the transfer process in Telstra’s back-end, she said.

As well as its wholesale customers, Telstra BigPond retail will be participating in the new scheme, Telstra Wholesale stated.

According to Simon Hackett, technical director at Internode’s parent company Agile Communications, the new system is a big win for broadband competition in Australia.

“It ensures that no industry players are able to force customers to remain on uncompetitive plans through the disincentives of high changeover costs or long outage periods – just like the mobile telephony market,” he said.

Hackett said a substantial proportion of Internode’s new customers were “disaffected Telstra BigPond retail customers”.

“The absence of this process has been a strong impediment for many customers to make the change. It’s not that people aren’t changing to Internode in the meantime – but a much larger number of customers will do so once the path is smoother. And that is a great example of the competitive marketplace being allowed to work properly,” he said.

As well as making the process simpler, Hackett said fees for transferring to a new ISP from an existing plan will also drop substantially.

“Today, to change providers, and in the absence of a proper churn process, customers have to pay a full new setup fee to their new provider, despite the underlying Telstra work being just a simple administrative change in a Telstra database (and despite it always being just that in this circumstance),” he said.

“In the meantime, Telstra has been pocketing a complete new setup fee (funding theoretical work including the physical jumpering of circuits in the exchange), every time a customer changes ISP.”

With the new system, instead of paying $135-$140 for the new setup fee, ISPs participating in the new scheme should be able to change over customer for as little as $35-$40,” Hackett said.

The process of changing providers should also speed up under the new system. According to the Whirlpool site, switching between ADSL providers using the old system involved up to approximately three weeks without connectivity while “Telstra configured their servers to allow for the change”.

Jurman said customers transferring to another provider using the new system should only involve around 1½ hours of network downtime, although paperwork at the new provider’s end could make the transferal process longer.

Supporting these comments, Hackett estimated the changeover process will be completed in 1-3 days from receipt of order from the customer, with downtime “in the order on one hour”.

Hackett said it was important to note, however, that the new process didn’t remove the customer’s obligation to their former ISP in terms of contractual conditions or early termination fees.

He added the new system would not be available to end users until late June.

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Nadia Cameron

Nadia Cameron

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