Irish fixed line incumbent eircom is automating the process of transferring broadband customers to rival operators such as Magnet Networks and Smart Telecom, making it easier for 390,000 people to switch provider. However, eircom’s decision to exclude BT’s 80,000 or so bitstream customers from the so-called ‘inter-operator migration’ process is sure to spark heated debate. Automating the transfer process in Ireland has been a contentious issue for a long time. eircom says it will begin implementing the system of ‘geographic number portability unbundled line metallic path (GUMP)’, by May. Magnet and Smart customers will not be charged for switching, although BT customers could face a fee to change. Siliconrepublic.com quotes a spokesman for eircom as saying that the incumbent was unwilling to allow BT to benefit from a higher margin on local loop unbundling (LLU). ‘If you want to move customers from bitstream to LLU there should be a price contract and that’s under negotiation,’ he said.