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It's about to get easier to leave your provider if your broadband's too slow

Friday, October 6th 2017 by Oprah Flash

Ofcom will force broadband providers to give customers better information about broadband speeds before they commit to a contract.

This includes information on the slower speeds consumers can expect at peak times and the right to leave a contract when speeds fall below a minimum level.

Today the communications regulator revealed plans to enhance its Codes of Practice to force providers to be upfront with customers about the estimated range of speeds that they are likely to receive.

Before a contract has been signed, providers will have to give a 'minimum guaranteed speed' and be honest about the type of speeds people can expect during peak hours – described by Ofcom as being between 8pm and 10pm.

Providers not meeting the minimum speed will get a one-month grace period in which to improve before customers will be able to switch to another provider, penalty-free.

Customers suffering from poor broadband speeds will also be able to get out of phone and pay TV packages from their provider, as long as the services were bought together as a bundle.

Lindsey Fussell, the group director of Ofcom, said: "We want broadband shoppers to know what they’re buying, and what speeds to expect.

"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.

Ofcom said its current codes "apply mostly to broadband over copper-based phone lines", but will be revised to include cable broadband networks such as Virgin Media's.

'More power'

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.”

Sky started advertising the average broadband speeds recieved by its customers last December. Most providers only advertise an 'up to' speed, which could be achieved by as little as 10% of its customers.

Ofcom says the average download speed for UK households is 34.6Mbps during the 8-10pm peak period.

The maximum average speed is 39.1Mbps.

By early next year the regulator hopes to publish the final decision on its improved Codes of Practice.

Related links

  • Ofcom
  • Citizen's Advice
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