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ISPs Sign Up To Provide Customers With More Clarity

David Gilbert

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ISPs Sign Up To Provide Customers With More Clarity

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the UK have not been having the best of times recently especially when it comes to customer confidence in their delivery of broadband as advertised. A few weeks ago we saw reports of up to 60 percent of BT cabinets not being enabled, and last week we saw a damning report from Ofcom criticising the way ISPs advertised their services.

Today we have a more positive move with most of the UK’s leading fixed-line and mobile broadband providers signing up to new best practice code promising to "provide customers with greater clarity." BSkyB, BT, O2, TalkTalk, Three, Virgin Media and Vodafone have all signed up for the new code of conduct and together they represent 90 percent of the fixed-line broadband in the UK and 60 percent of the mobile broadband. The one major provider that is missing from the new deal is Everything Everywhere (owner of T-Mobile and Orange) who have said they may sign up in the near future.

What the deal means for broadband customers is that they will be able to access to the different traffic management practices of broadband providers, available in a common format, and information on when and with what impact they are applied. The firms will also publish a “Key Facts Indicator Table” by the end of June, and comply “with a set of good practice principles on providing information to the consumer that is: understandable; appropriate; accessible; current; comparable; and verifiable.”

The Broadband Stakeholder Group, who helped to draw up the agreement, said: “The code will be piloted in 2011 by the signatories and its implementation will be reviewed in early 2012 to fine tune the approach. Interested parties, such as consumer groups, will be invited to provide feedback as part of the review process.” While net neutrality campaigners will believe that ISPs will be taking these voluntary steps in order to delay any regulation coming from the UK or European administrators, for customers at least it should provide some clearer information.

Source: Broadband Stakeholders Group

Enigma

March 15, 2011, 12:51 am

"promising to "provide customers with greater clarity.""

That is just PR to head off any compulsory imposition like as I said a few weeks ago:

That is we should stop this "UPTO" and other current cons.

Instead Ofcon (deliberate) "should demand of the ISPs that they MUST deliver on average 90% of the contracted speed in each billing period. If it goes below that then the Customer will be given a refund by that amount, eg if the average is 80% then the Customer will get a 20% refund for that billing period.

"Ofcom should also stipulate ISPs MUST provide to Customers an app that measures and records the BB speed within six months."

Remember we've heard ALL of this nonsense from Mobile Phone companies, Utility companies, Banks, etc ALL ended up having a compulsory code of practice imposed. This is just delaying the inevitable given the aforesaid experience.

SO GO ON OFCOM do as suggested above.

Fellow readers start the campaign. Also you folks may want to read this:


SXSW 2011: Al Franken warns of 'outright disaster' over net neutrality

Democratic senator tells SXSW audience to fight back against Comcast and other companies lobbying for two-speed internet

Over @ http://www.guardian.co.uk/tech...

Enigma

March 15, 2011, 3:58 am

The 'UPTO' is not the ONLY slight of hand.

How many of BSkyB's 10 million subscribers are 2nd, 3rd or 4th room?

KultiVator

March 15, 2011, 12:40 pm

@Enigma - whilst I admire your enthusiasm, 90% of contracted speed is not achievable for ~99% of UK customers over copper-based wiring - even for those users living in the 'Goldielocks Zone', i.e. fairly close to an Exchange with few connected neighbours.

In my experience, even those living in close to ideal locations tend to yield, only ~6mbps from an 8mbps service in the real world. In rural villages in my part of the country, 2 - 3.5 mbps from an 8mbps is more typical. This variable performance of the telephone infrastructure has always been difficult to convey in a meaningful way to potential punters. The phrase 'up to' has long been used by most ISPs to cover their backs - but that doesn't necessarily mean they're all evil!

"Ofcom should also stipulate ISPs MUST provide to Customers an app that measures and records the BB speed within six months."

Where will the app run? If on one PC and/or via WiFi, how would the ISP know that you're local environment does not contain other limiting factors (other devices or neighbours sapping your bandwidth, interference from other routers, Bluetooth devices, microwave ovens, digital senders, DECT handsets, etc)?

I don’t work for an ISP and, like everyone, I want to get good value. But copper telephone wires were never designed with broadband in mind â€" or simultaneous voice and data. So we do have to be mindful that there are a number of limiting factors at work and that all the campaigning in the world wont change some of the realities of the services we are offered.

The way those services are described and marketed on the other hand â€" well that’s a different matter.

Simon

March 15, 2011, 4:09 pm

@Kultivator " whilst I admire your enthusiasm, 90% of contracted speed is not achievable for ~99%" Then maybe they need to lower the contracted speed for everyone?

Enigma

March 16, 2011, 3:08 am

@Simon either @Kultivator is 'cultivating' for his ISP bosses/clients or he has some other self-interest in being an 'apologist' for the industry's and Ofcoms shortcomings (okay pun intended).

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