Ofcom adds new protections for consumer broadband buyers

Internet service providers (ISPs) will have to take additional steps to clarify information about broadband speeds for consumers following revisions to Ofcom's 2015 code of practice.

The update is designed to reflect the fact that many broadband consumers frequently find that the service speed they receive is substantially below the service they think they are buying.

“We want broadband shoppers to know what they’re buying, and what speeds to expect,” said Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom consumer group director. “So, we plan to close the gap between what is advertised and what is delivered, giving customers a fuller picture before they commit to a contract.

“We are also making it easier to walk away from a contract, without penalty, when companies fail to provide the speeds they promise.”

The regulator will also move to strengthen consumer rights to exit broadband contracts if speeds fall below a guaranteed minimum level, by giving ISPs a short window of time to improve the service before they must let users walk away without penalty. Currently, ISPs have an unlimited amount of time to resolve the problem before offering the right to exit, and this will now drop to one month.

Finally, the code of practice will also be extended to apply not only to broadband services delivered over copper-based phone lines, but also to cable-based networks, which can often be particularly vulnerable to constraints through overuse at peak times. This means Virgin Media customers will also be able to benefit from the enhanced protections.

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