Kudos to the British internet regulator, Ofcom. Today it has told ISPs to get their act together when advertising internet packages, saying they must be realistic about the speeds customers can expect when they buy a package. The new rules set out today, build on existing codes of practice which require companies to give estimates of speeds a customer will likely get, at the same time, adding a rule that allows customers to quit a contract without penalty if the speeds are lower than promised.
With today’s changes, Ofcom introduces the following things:
- Improve information on speeds at the point of sale and in contracts, by reflecting the slower speeds people can experience at ‘peak’ times; and by ensuring providers always give a minimum guaranteed speed before sale.
- Strengthen the right to exit if speeds fall below a guaranteed minimum level. Providers would have a limited time to improve speeds before they must let customers walk away without penalty. For the first time, this right to exit would also apply to contracts that include phone and pay-TV services bought together with broadband services.
- Increase the number of customers who benefit from the codes, by expanding their scope to apply to all broadband technologies.
Ofcom’s Consumer Group Director, Lindsey Fussell, said:
“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. We’re also making it easier to walk away from a contract, without penalty, when companies fail to provide the speeds they promise.”
With rules like these being proposed, there is plenty of room for scepticism, and rightly so. According to Ofcom, providers are adequately abiding by the rules with their research showing an increase in compliance since their previous study. With that in mind though, the regulator says there is room for improvement and providers have to set out measures they intend to take to deliver on these improvements.