Ofcom publishes broadband speed rules

Media regulator Ofcom has announced industry broadband rules to help users baffled by promised web access speeds.

Media regulator Ofcom has announced industry broadband rules to help users baffled by promised web access speeds.

Ofcom's Code of Practice, by which internet service providers (ISPs) will give customers a true picture of likely broadband speeds at the point of sale, comes into force today.

Ofcom research reveals that around a quarter of people said they did not receive the speed they expected when they signed up for a broadband service. The survey will be published in full in early 2009.

Ofcom is also conducting research on the actual speeds obtained by broadband customers and expects to publish initial results early next year.

The Code of Practice is voluntary and is supported by ISPs covering over 95% of broadband customers. Ofcom's code aims to provide greater clarity for consumers and reduce the possibility of misleading consumers over broadband speeds.

Ofcom will monitor compliance over the next six months to ensure ISPs are honouring the commitments they made when signing up to the code.

Under the code, ISPs are required to:

  • provide consumers at the point of sale with an accurate estimate of the maximum speed that their line can support
  • explain clearly and simply how technical factors may slow down speeds, and give help and advice to consumers to improve the situation at homeoffer an alternative package (if there is one) without any penalties, if the actual speed is a lot lower than the original estimate
  • explain fair usage policies clearly and alert consumers when they have been breached

Ofcom has published the full list of ISPs that have signed up to the Code.

A guide for consumers of what to expect from an ISP when taking a home broadband service is also being published. It provides troubleshooting tips if consumers are not getting the speeds expected.

Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards said: "Ofcom welcomes the fact that so many ISPs have signed and now implemented the Code of Practice. Over 95% of broadband customers are covered by the Code, which means that the vast majority of people should be confident about the advice they receive on broadband speeds."

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