Internet, home phone and mobile users have extra rights and protections from today, as new EU telecoms rules come into force.
Providers have been given until today to comply with the new EU telecoms rules – including restrictions on the length of phone and broadband contracts. The rules were designed to ‘ensure a more competitive telecoms sector and better services for customers’, according to the European Commission’s press release.
New EU telecoms rules
The new rules cover consumer choice and switching and privacy issues, as well as promoting more consistent regulation across the EU.
Better protection and choice in phone and broadband markets
- To enable customers to switch to a better deal more easily, mobile, home phone and broadband providers are banned from offering contracts of longer than 24 months, and must offer customers the ability to take out 12 month contracts for mobile and other telecoms sectors.
- Home phone and mobile operators must offer customers the ability to switch provider without changing their phone number within one working day.
- Providers must provide clearer information on services to which a customer is subscribed, and contracts must provide information about minimum service quality levels. Internet service providers must give information about techniques which might affect a customer’s quality of service, such as traffic management and fair usage policies.
Which? telecoms expert Ceri Stanaway says: ‘We look forward to seeing companies start to offer shorter contract lengths if consumers want them. Over recent years, there has been an increasing trend for companies to offer longer and longer contracts.
‘Long contracts can be good for some as they are typically cheaper on a month-by-month basis so allow customers to spread costs. But the increasingly short supply of shorter, 12 month contracts has frustrated some, as phone and broadband offers change so frequently and long tie-ins can prevent customers easily switching when they spot a better deal.’
Online privacy and safety
- It is now mandatory for companies to provide notifications of personal data breaches, and the rules also offer better protection against such breaches and spam emails
- The rules require ‘better information and consent requirements’ for online tracking technologies which store or access data in users’ devices, such as ‘cookies’.
It is down to regulators and Government in each EU country to enshrine the new telecoms rules in national law, though the European Commission has pledged to closely follow the process to ensure timely and full implementation. Which? will be continuing to work with industry and Government to try and ensure consumers have appropriate levels of protection and information in the privacy arena.
You can let us know your thoughts on privacy and data protection issues on Which? Conversation – join our heated debates on:
- Can online behavioural advertisers regulate themselves?
- Apologetic emails don’t make up for losing our personal data
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