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Ofcom should force providers to deliver advertised broadband speeds - INCA

Thursday, June 25th 2015 by Ellen Branagh

Ofcom should start forcing broadband providers to actually deliver the speeds customers are paying for, the head of a network co-operative has said.

Malcolm Corbett, CEO of the Independent Networks Cooperative Association (INCA), welcomed the regulator’s plans to allow people to exit their broadband contracts if they suffer from persistent problems or slow speeds.

But he said it should start by addressing the issue of “up to” caveats in broadband speed adverts and ensuring suppliers deliver what people are paying for.

Last week, Ofcom announced new measures, aimed at protecting and empowering consumers, that will allow customers to switch broadband, mobile and landline providers more easily.

A strengthened Code of Practice on broadband speeds with BT, EE, KC in Hull, Plusnet, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media improves consumers’ right to leave their broadband contract when speeds fall below acceptable levels.

New customers signing up will be able to walk away from providers during the whole term of the contract, not just the first three months, if they suffer problems that cannot be resolved.

Speaking to Cable.co.uk at the Connected Britain conference in London, Mr Corbett said he welcomed the changes.

Paying for services

But he added; “To be honest with you, it would be better if Ofcom started by saying that suppliers should deliver what it is that people are paying for.

“We’re all paying for services which nobody gets.

“It’s that old story – you go into a pub and order a pint of beer and get served half a pint of beer and they say 'oh in this pub we serve up to a pint of beer for your £4'.”

Currently providers can advertise a headline 'up to' speed, as long as 10% of their customers can receive those speeds.

Information on broadband speeds on Ofcom’s website explains that people may not receive speeds advertised by ISPs for various reasons, including the distance someone lives from their local telephone exchange.

It says its own research suggests that just 9% of the UK population on 8Mbps packages receive actual average speeds of over 6Mbps, and around one in five (19%) gets less than 2Mbps.

Mr Corbett said in contrast many INCA members, especially those who are delivering fibre networks, deliver faster speeds than they advertise – rather than slower.

“So a company like Gigaclear, they deliver more than they say they’re going to do – consistently," he said.

“Their whole idea is if you buy a 100Mbps service you will always get more than 100Mbps. Not less, not up to, but more than."

He said in his view it would be better if Ofcom focused on changing the current status quo with the biggest providers, forcing them to deliver speeds that equate to what people are paying for.

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