Broadband users will find it easier to switch service provider under new rules proposed yesterday.

Thousands of customers complained they had problems moving from one company to another, regulator Ofcom said.

The proposed regulations could prompt more users to seek out better deals in the fiercely competitive broadband market.

More than 11 million customers in the UK are already signed up to broadband - but thousands have had trouble changing provider.

Some broadband companies are slow to provide the Migration Authorisation Codes (MACs) which users need in order to change, Ofcom said.

In other cases, people moving house can't set up broadband because technical glitches wrongly show the building is already connected.

Ofcom's proposals would make it mandatory for companies to give MACs to customers on request.

Codes will be available from other sources if broadband companies are unable provide them.

Ofcom also wants the industry to sort out technical problems which prevent people switching when they move house. A spokesman for the regulator said the vast majority of broadband users were able to easily switch provider.

But he said: "There is evidence that people have got so fed up with waiting for this MAC which their provider is not supplying them with that they are just giving up and staying where they are.

"There is a lot of competition in the broadband market but if customers aren't able to exercise their choice then competition is of limited value."

At present the broadband industry provides MACs to users under a voluntary scheme which Ofcom has no powers to investigate or enforce.

If the new regulations are brought in, the regulator will have powers to investigate and even fine companies which don't comply.

Ofcom's proposals are subject to consultation.