Broadband regulator Ofcom has announced a new proposal that would require broadband providers to give customers an estimated range of speeds they are likely to receive.
Customers would also be able to cancel their broadband contract without a penalty fee if their speeds fall below a minimum level.
The changes are designed to aid customers when choosing a broadband deal and to ensure they aren’t trapped in a contract that doesn’t meet the minimum speed requirements.
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Realistic broadband speeds
Ofcom has acknowledged the sometimes significant gap between advertised top speeds and what people actually receive day to day. This is often due to speeds falling during peak times.
Under the proposals published today, providers will now be required at point of sale to quote a minimum potential speed. If this speed isn’t achieved, then Ofcom will give the provider one month to improve it. The customer will be able to exit the contract without paying any penalty fee if the provider fails to implement improvements within that month timescale.
This rule won’t just apply to broadband-only customers either. The proposals extend this to customers even if their deal includes TV and home phone services.
Ofcom has also said that these new rules would apply to networks that deliver internet via cable, such as Virgin Media. Previously, it only applied to copper-based phone lines, which meant cable customers had less protection.
Do broadband providers have to comply?
According to Ofcom, providers are ‘complying adequately with the current residential code’, but said that there is room for improvement. Providers have set out measures to meet the new guidelines set by Ofcom, including additional staff training and ‘improving online sales processes’.
‘We want broadband shoppers to know what they’re buying, and what speeds to expect. So, we plan to close the gap between what’s advertised and what’s delivered, giving customers a fuller picture before they commit to a contract,’ said Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s Consumer Group Director. ‘We’re also making it easier to walk away from a contract, without penalty, when companies fail to provide the speeds they promise.’
How Which? can help you choose the best deal
We’re campaigning to fix bad broadband and get people the speeds they were promised. You can help us by taking our online speed test, which will allow us to identify areas with connection issues across the UK.
If you’re suffering with slow speeds then you can follow the simple steps in our speed up slow broadband guide to get you closer to the connection speed you were promised.