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back to article BT Wholesale cuts off Prodigy Internet

Sheffield-based ISP Prodigy Internet has effectively been shut down, after BT Wholesale began redirecting its customers to a "walled garden" page to obtain Migration Authorisation Codes (MACs). A spokeswoman for the communications regulator Ofcom said it had worked with BT Wholesale to "maintain service" on Monday lunchtime …

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Pity...

...because Prodigy were one of the small band of technically competent ISPs.

I've been with them for a few years, and have always found them responsive and helpful on the rare occasions I needed to speak to them.

Of course, I've now been forced into a migration of both my own and my mother's ADSL lines thanks to BTs actions (I have no idea of the back-story - no doubt that will unfold over the next few days and weeks).

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Bronze badge

MAC

Can some please explain MAC to this yank. In America when you want to change DSL providers , you cancel, then simply call up another provider . NoMAC needed

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Re: MAC

The MAC lets you migrate straight from one provider to another without having to cancel, wait for the provider's tag to be removed from the line, then when it's clear sign up with a new provider and wait for that to be processed. You get the MAC, give that to the new provider and it all just happens, normally minimal downtime on the day that the changeover happens, and often no new connection fee.

As I understand it anyway...

Steve.

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@kain preacher - explain?

BT

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@ kain preacher

Yeah, and you'll likely be several days without service in the process (having experienced the US system) unless you can get the two service providers to cooperate and coordinate their dates.

A MAC is an authorisation code to transfer service from one ISP to another. Normally, it's seemless, happening in the middle of the night with only the slightest interruption. It's pretty much the same concept as the authorisation codes used to migrate cellphone numbers between different providers.

Normally customers never have to deal with their own MAC codes, the ISPs do it between themselves but if one of the ISPs involved is against the wall and won't answer the phones, obviously they'll have to do it themselves.

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@ kain preacher

Theoretically the MAC means that you don't need to be without DSL service for days waiting for things like the original service to disappear from the line, or for the new service provider to gear up to offering you the service once your old provider has been removed. It also means the new provider knows that you're not tied into a minimum term contract which would stop you from being able to move service provider.

In theory on the day of switchover using a MAC, you will only be without service provision for a couple of hours or so.

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Re: MAC

A MAC is a Migration Authorisation Code, it allows you to migrate from one ISP to another with almost zero downtime. If you simply cancel and go elsewhere it could be up to 28 days until you're connected again. More info at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Migration_Authorisation_Code

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@Kain Preacher

MAC - Right, well over here you can cancel and subscribe to a new ISP but you get charged to disconnect (about £13) charged as a new connect (about £40) and it takes a while as both actions are queued with BT. And you can't subscribe until the cancel is shown as complete on loads of BT databases. So you'd have no internet for about 2 to 3 weeks. In some cases you'd avoid the connection fee but suffer a long(er) minimum contract.

A MAC code acts rather like a PAC code on a mobiles. Your existing supplier creates it with BT and you pass it to your new ISP as both a line identification and their authorisation to take over you line for broadband. A MAC is valid (ie. usable) for 30 days. Its (99% of the time) only usable once. What's great is that it counts as you giving notice IF you actually use it. It doesn't count as anything if you don't use it. In general you get charged nothing or only about £13 to connect with MAC as BT only have to alter a database to switch you over.

In theory BT tell your old ISP when you are gone but in practice its best to tell them yourself once switched over AND working. Assuming they still exists ofcourse.

(Great name by the way).

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@MAC

It's a pain in the arse. You have to obtain a MAC for changing any kind of telecom provider. I believe it was originally conceived to stop fraudulent trading activities and fly-by-night businesses. In reality, when you ask for a MAC, you get hassled by the "Retention Department" (actually a local office and not one in India) who will try and convince you to stay with grovelling shovelled in spades, to which you tell them in no uncertain terms that if they treated their customers better, you wouldn't be having this conversation with them.

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Coat

Prodigy?

Something about a Firestarter ISP ?

Ok, I'm going ...

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Unhappy

MAC - great in theory

Except if you're leaving BT. then you get an hour long arument with some jumped up little tosser who's trying to tell you, you don't need one, even though the new ISP has expressly requested it, based on not being an unbundled area, even though it is! and then they don't take it as notice, and continue to charge you for three months after you've been successfully transferred!!

In short, I think they were deliberately trying to make it so difficult to leave, that you might give up part process. Took threat of legal action, using the SKY billing to prove I wasn't a BT cusomer anymore, to get my money back.

(don't really like SKY either, as they know less about tech support on BBand than I do whenever I have to call them, you have to get past three layers of helldesk pillocks before you can talk to a tech FFS!) maybe o2 is the nesxt attempt for something better than a measly 1.8meg download, hoping ADSL2+ will wring another 50% out of the copper?!

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Paris Hilton

@Mountford D

er actually it's quite a handy way of getting a massive discount and better offer. :)

you ring up, ask for a MAC, get passed to the retention department, they grovel, you sigh a few times and suggest a discount/few free months/new mobile phone etc and they give it to you.

everyone's happy.

probably limited to trying it once a year though I guess. :D

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Coat

Re: MAC

It can be a right royal pain in the arse. Our line was once held hostage without any service for a month when a previous ISP went bust and their wholesale provider did a deal with another ISP who wouldn't cease the line for a month, or provide a MAC, or any service unless we commited to an overpriced 12 month contract with them.

Ofcomedy have since changed the rules so that ISPs are not allowed to do that, but if an ISP won't provide a MAC you are expected to use an arbitration service (Ofcom require ISPs to be a member) - this can take 3 months plus, and if your ISP isn't a member, or more likely has got into financial difficulty and allowed membership to lapse, you are somewhat stuffed.

My last ISP was a fair bit better at providing MACs than the previous one: they merely refused to provide a MAC until I gave them details of who I was switching to so that they could give me the retention sales pitch and make a better offer, then neglected to provide my MAC within the prescribed time, so I then had to ask for it again.

I'll get my mac

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Overloaded MAC

There are 26^3 = 17576 TLAs. So why did they have to go and pick one that already has a perfectly good meaning the the same domain? "What is your MAC?" "It's 00:1b:27:3a:21:01". "Sorry sir, that is not a valid MAC". "WFT? I just read it off the sticker!" "Ah no, that's the other-sort-of-MAC".

In fact there's yet another meaning: "What is your MAC?" "No, I'm a PC".

Argh.

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MAC process

Hi,

I recently moved from Demon to Pipex Business (I got a little to hacked off with Demon's fair usage policy). Demon were very quick at giving me the MAC code (not sure why - but I think they may have been glad to see the back of me - heavy downloader with 3 other users at peak times).

The thing that got me was that Pipex works out cheaper and I get no fair usage policy - I even got a refund from Demon for the service I didn't use :P

Mike

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Anonymous Coward

@ Steve Foster

Surely this is Prodigy's actions not BT's, I'm hguessing if they ain't answering the phones, then they definately aren't paying the DSL wholesale bill. No Pay, No Play.

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Unhappy

Not terribly impressed with OFCOM so far

Ive been asking for a MAC from Hi-Velocity for 9 full months now and its always coming in the morning or on monday. Maybe time for OFCOM to act on them too, just how many people suffering does it require to act upon the law?

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@Mike Gravgaard

I'm another ex-Demon user: around 10 years with them (from the KA9Q days on dial-up on the "tenner a month" plan, all the way to Business Broadband), but I eventually left them because of the Fair Usage Policy kicking in continually. I now pay Enta.net (available through many resellers such as ukfsn.org ) for a "known bandwidth" allowance of 90Gb per month (Demon wouldn't even offer me anything like that - even though I was willing to pay double what I was paying! -, but like you, they handed over the MAC code as soon as I asked). I

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@AC

Prodigy didn't kick their customers off the internet. BT did. Prodigy were simply retailing BT Wholesale ADSL product. BT are therefore in a position of power over many ISPs because they can simply redirect all the ISPs ADSL customers to their [BTs] own walled garden, as happened with Prodigy.

Now whether it's Prodigy's fault for actually not paying their bills, or a dispute between Prodigy and BT of some sort, or a cockup by BT ("you haven't paid us", "oh yes we have" "we can't trace it", etc), we don't know.

Regardless of the reason, BTs actions have ensured that Prodigy is no longer a viable company.

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About time

I was a prodigy customer for a few years and had a heck of a lot of trouble getting away from them. When I signed up they offered a decently priced service and to be fair to them it was pretty reliable. Roll on a few years, prices are far from competitive so I decide to move. Every request for a MAC by e-mail was ignored. Phone only ever rang and there was no answer machine. I even resorted to writing to them and still got ignored. Eventually they added a cancel account option to the 'control panel' so I used that and enjoyed dial up for a couple of weeks.

Now with Namesco and getting a better service for less.

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Stop

@Steve Foster

Ofcom would come down on BT like a ton of bricks if they redirected an ISP's customers to a walled garden without a very good reason, which was non-payment it seems.

http://www.ispreview.co.uk/story/2009/04/01/bt-confirms-prodigy-isp-cut-off-due-to-non-payment.html

"BT can confirm that it has terminated its contract for the provision of BT Wholesale broadband services with Prodigy Internet Limited due to non payment of invoices."

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hi-Velocity

Had the same problem with Hi-Velocity.

My Mum was with them but wanted to switch to Be. Emailed for MAC three times, no reply. Checked Ofcom website, put in a complaint to Hi-Velocity (as instructed by Ofcom), no reply. Phoned Ofcom, who contacted Hi-Velocity. STILL no MAC code.

Eventually after about two months of Ofcom hassling them a MAC code was issued.

They still kept sending me bills for another two months though, even going so far as to tell me one month they had accidentally sent me the wrong bill!

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