South Shropshire MP Philip Dunne has welcomed a proposed change by Ofcom, which will ensure broadband customers receive better information about the speeds they can expect before they commit to a contract.
Ofcom already has codes of practice for residential and business broadband customers, which require signatories to provide consumers with estimates of the speeds they are likely to receive at the point of sale. In order to strengthen these practices, Ofcom is planning to improve speed information at the point of sale and in contracts, by reflecting the slower speeds people can experience at ‘peak’ times; and by ensuring they always provide a minimum guaranteed speed before sale.
They will also strengthen the right to exit if speeds fall below a guaranteed minimum level, with providers having a limited time to improve speeds before they must let customers walk away penalty-free. For the first time, this right to exit would also apply to contracts that include phone and pay-TV services bought with broadband. They also intend to increase the number of customers who benefit from the codes, by expanding their scope to apply to all broadband technologies – including cable services.
Mr Dunne said: “I welcome these proposals by Ofcom to strengthen the hand of consumers, when broadband companies do not accurately reflect the speeds their customers can expect.
In a rural area like South Shropshire, which typically has slower broadband than urban areas, even marginal differences in speed can change the mind of a consumer when picking a contract – so it is vital that customers can expect the advertised speed to be substantiated by performance.”
Final decisions on the revised Codes of Practice are expected to be announced next year, following consultation.