Broadband customers could get the right to end their contract without penalty if their speed falls below a minimum level, under new protections set out by Ofcom today.
The telecoms regulator has published a series of proposed changes to its Codes of Practice which would improve the pre-sales information customers receive about their likely speeds and let them walk away it ISPs failed to deliver.
Ofcom says the new rules would help tackle the often significant gap between currently published ‘up to’ speeds and those customer actually receive which can be much slower, especially in peak times.
Where companies failed to deliver a guaranteed minimum level customers would gain the right to walk away penalty-free and, for the first time, this right would include phone and pay-TV services bought with broadband.
Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s Consumer Group Director, 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.”
Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Many people seek our help each year because their slow and intermittent broadband service falls short of what their contract promised.
“For most people, a reliable broadband connection is a necessity – so when they don’t get what they’ve paid for they should always have a quick and easy way out of their contract.
“These changes are an important step in giving consumers more power to hold their broadband provider to account for poor service.”
Ofcom says it expects to publish a final decision on its new Codes of Practice early next year, alongside a consumer guide to help raise awareness of the additional benefits of the new Codes.