UK broadband users will be able to leave their underperforming ISP without the threat of early termination fees, under new plans outlined by Ofcom.
The communications regulator has announced a new initiative designed to hold providers accountable if they fail to live up to minimum advertised speeds.
In a blog post on Monday, Ofcom said broadband firms who can’t improve speeds after a month must set customers free without charging them a fee.
“In future, broadband providers will always have to give a minimum guaranteed speed to a potential customer at the point of sale,” the company wrote.
“If that speed then drops below the promised level, broadband firms will have one month to improve performance, before they must allow customers to walk away without paying a penalty.”
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Additionally, providers will be asked to provide “more realistic peak-time speed information upfront” to help subscribers know what to expect at busy times of the day. This will apply to both business and residential customers.
Applies to bundles too
The new regulations on the right to exit will apply to customers who signed up for the broadband as part of phone and TV bundles. The providers must also ensure all customers benefit from the codes of practice regardless of whether they’re paying for copper, fibre or cable broadband.
In the blog post, Ofcom added: “Implementing these reforms will require providers to make major changes to their systems, develop new speed testing methods, and train staff.”
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.”
The new rules will come into play on broadband tariffs purchased from March 1 next year, giving ISPs almost a full year to bring their services up to speed.
Is Ofcom’s ruling overdue? Have you suffered under slower-than-advertised internet speeds for too long? Let us know @TrustedReviews on Twitter.