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Need for speed data – time to fess up

Ofcom: Broadband providers must reveal accurate speeds before purchase

From today all broadband shoppers must be told how fast their new service will be before they sign on the dotted line of a new contract. This applies whether people switch to a new provider or change their current package.

The new demand on providers is part of Ofcom’s Code of Practice, which is itself part of their Fairness for Customers project.

Fairness for Customers is Ofcom’s work to ensure people get a fair deal and are treated well by providers. Under the new promise all broadband providers must give customers a minimum guaranteed speed at the point of sale.

If a customer’s broadband speed then drops below the promised level, companies will have one month to improve performance, before they must let the customer walk away, penalty free. This right to exit also applies to landline and TV packages bought at the same time as broadband.

- Press Release: Ofcom

All the major providers, EE, BT, Plusnet, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media, have signed up to the new Code, this means 95% of home broadband customers are now covered by the Code.

According to Ofcom’s own figures, only three in 20 broadband customers contacted their existing provider proactively and renegotiated their deal last year. Ofcom estimates there are millions of households able to upgrade to a faster broadband, in most cases for the same or less money. Which means people are missing out on better deals.

When you sign a contract, you should be treated fairly and know exactly what you’re getting. These protections mean broadband shoppers can buy with confidence. And if companies break that promise, they’ll have to sort it out quickly, or let the customer walk away.

- Lindsey Fussell: Consumer Group Director, Ofcom

Ofcom’s research has shown that people with a basic, copper broadband connection have a less than a one-in-five chance to be able to stream Netflix in ultra-high definition. A simple switch to a superfast service, they argue, would solve such an issue.

Among other notable improvements in Ofcom’s Fairness for Customers project is that all providers must now tell customers about their best deals available when their contracts are coming to an end. And they must do so annually from then on.

Ofcom will regularly review how mobile operators charge their customers for handsets when they are bundled with airtime. And, they will review broadband companies’ pricing practices, looking in particular as to why some customers pay more than others.

Image: Jane White


A veteran freelance journalist writing extensively on internet news and cybersecurity.
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