A fast and reliable broadband connection is the basic minimum people expect and yet it is still only too common to hear complaints of slow speeds and dropped connections. Whilst for years those suffering from poor service had been at the mercy of their ISP to fix the issues, now people are able to walk away from their broadband contracts if their ISP is not performing as advertised.
Under new rules announced by Ofcom earlier this year, broadband providers are finally being forced to be upfront with customers about the speeds they will be able to receive, including those at peak times. No longer will unscrupulous ISPs be able to tell customers they can get 38Mbps only for the customer to find out that during peak hours they only get 2Mbps when they have signed up to a 12 or 24 months contract.
Under the new rules, ISPs have a month to fix the issues and if they can’t or won’t then customers can cancel their contract without paying any early exit fees. The rules also apply to landline and television packages bundled with broadband and cover BT, EE, Plusnet, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media, which supply around 95 per cent of home broadband customers.
This week, the government went further and announced the creation of a new independent Consumer Advocate “to protect mobile and broadband customers from unfair practices”, bringing telecoms regulation more in line with other essential services sectors, such as energy and water.
Minister for Digital, Margot James, commented:
“It’s clear that some mobile and broadband customers are vulnerable to unfair business practices. We’ve already strengthened Ofcom’s powers to improve outcomes for consumers but a strong, independent consumer champion will empower customers and hold telecoms companies to account, as well as working with them to drive improvements in their services.”
These added consumer protections are great news for broadband users, who should now feel more secure to shop around for the best broadband deal for their needs, whether that is a cheap 10Mbps connection with a 30GB usage cap, or a 100Mbps connection with unlimited usage. And this in turn should create a more competitive landscape in the telecoms market, with ISPs under increased pressure to deliver a reliable connection at speeds that at least match those advertised.
These new regulations come as the first 5G services start to appear in the market, offering mobile data speeds of up to 300Mbps, broadband suppliers will need to improve their offerings to compete. It has never been a better time for customers looking to get online.