Ofcom publishes mobile broadband best practice guide

UK telecoms regulator Ofcom publishes Principles of Good Practice gaining approval from all six on the main mobile broadband operators

The Mobile Broadband Group of UK telecoms regulator Ofcom has published a guide of Principles of Good Practice for marketing mobile broadband services which has gained approval from all six on the main mobile broadband operators in the UK that is 3, 02, Orange, T-Mobile, Virgin and Vodafone.

Recognising the rapid growth of mobile broadband over the last twelve months, and the potential for rapid growth to come, Ofcom believes that its is vital that customers have the information they need to make an informed purchase and that staff are able to help customers with any queries they may have.

It says that the mobile operators, under the auspices of the Mobile Broadband Group (MBG), have agreed these principles in order to promote customer understanding and underpin further solid growth of mobile broadband. The guidelines include the provision of information on coverage, the factors that impact download speeds, and pricing.

Specifically, the MBG wants coverage information available via a web site (e.g. a map or a post code checker) and the promotion of and factors that determine download speeds.

It wants to see that download and upload speeds given in advertising and promotional material are actually achievable by end users and that they are accompanied by an explanation that speeds are variable. It would like an indicative range of download and upload speeds under normal conditions to be given.

Pricing information should set out the relevant tariff options, including a description of any fair usage limits. There must an explanation of the consequences of the usage limit or fair usage allowance being exceeded. Where operators make references to Megabits, Megabytes and Gigabytes in close proximity, they should give an explanation of the differences. A description of what, for example, a Megabyte of data usage allows should be provided.

Roaming charges or a hyperlink to where the roaming charges are set out should also be included as should explanations of what a Mb of usage allows description of fair usage limits and any other relevant information.

Claudio Pollack, Ofcom’s Director of Consumer Policy, commented, “Ofcom welcomes the mobile operators’ commitment to give their customers better information about mobile broadband services. We will be undertaking further research and monitoring of mobile broadband to check that consumers’ needs are being met.”

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