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Ofcom: We'll help businesses get the broadband service they need

Tuesday, January 26th 2016 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Businesses are to get accurate information on the broadband speeds they will get before they sign a contract, Ofcom has announced.

Under a new voluntary Ofcom code of practice, providers will be required to give businesses an accurate estimate of what broadband speed they can expect to receive.

The seven business broadband providers who have signed up to the code – BT Business, Daisy Communications, KCOM, TalkTalk Business, Virgin Media, XLN and Zen – have also promised to manage their customers’ speed-related problems effectively.

Businesses will be given information on their provider’s network traffic management and will be able to exit their contract early if speeds fall below a minimum guaranteed level.

The announcement follows similar measures introduced by Ofcom last year to protect and empower residential broadband customers.

The seven providers that have already signed up to the Voluntary Business Broadband Speeds Code of Practice provide services to around two thirds of small and medium businesses with standard broadband connections.

They have until 30 September 2016 to put in place the requirements of the code.

All providers of business broadband are being invited to sign up.

Ofcom CEO Sharon White said: “Ensuring consumers get the best possible communications services is Ofcom’s top priority.

“And that includes businesses getting the broadband speeds they need. Yet too many buy unsuitable broadband packages because of confusing or insufficient sales information, or are hampered by slow speeds after they've signed on the dotted line.

'Informed decisions'

“Where broadband companies fail to provide the speeds they promise, we’ve made it easier for businesses to walk away from their contracts without penalty. Providers have also agreed to give clear and reliable speeds information upfront so business customers can make more informed decisions.”

Mike Cherry, policy director for the Federation of Small Businesses, said the code is a “timely and well targeted intervention in the broadband market”.

“To plan effectively, firms need accurate information on what speeds they can expect, and how much this will vary.

“Business owners should be able easily to compare suppliers and exit a contract early if their communications provider does not deliver the speeds promised.”

Mystery shopping, to check if ISPs are complying with both the letter and spirit of the code, will be carried out once it is fully implemented.

Ofcom will also continue to assess the code's effectiveness while considering other ways to improve communication of broadband speeds.

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