Broadband shoppers will receive better information about speeds before they commit to a contract, under new protections announced by Ofcom.
In future, providers will always have to give a minimum guaranteed speed to a potential customer at the point of sale. If that customer’s speed then drops below the promised level, broadband firms will have one month to improve performance, before they must let customers walk away penalty-free.
This right to exit a contract will also apply, for the first time, to landline and TV packages bought together with broadband, meaning that customers will not be tied to a TV contract bought at the same time as their broadband, if speeds fall short of what was promised.
However, consumer groups warned that the new regulations did not go far enough.
Richard Neudegg, head of regulation at uSwitch.com, said: “What we really need is for this information to be opened up so that consumers can compare different provider speeds side-by-side in order to make an informed decision about the service that best suits them.”
Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s consumer group director, said: “Broadband customers must know what they’re signing up to.
“These protections will close the gap between the broadband speeds people are sold, and what they actually receive. And to give people extra confidence, we are making it easier to walk away – without penalty – if companies fail to deliver.”
Alex Neill, Which? Managing Director of Home Products and Services, said: “Consumers have told us that they feel confused about the broadband speeds they are likely to get and the service they pay for, so further steps to help inform customers and empower them to walk away without facing a penalty are welcome.
“Providers signed up to the code need to move quickly to implement these changes, so that broadband customers are given a realistic expectation of the speed they should experience before they commit to a contract.”