Ofcom is planning to “close the gap” between what speeds UK broadband providers are advertising and what they deliver.
The regulator wants to update its existing Codes of Practice, introduced back in 2008 and last updated two years ago, to “strengthen the hand” of customers.
It said broadband providers were complying “adequately” with the current rules, but noted there was “room to improve”.
The new proposals include committing providers to give an estimated range of speeds customers are likely to receive, to strengthening the right of customers to exit contracts if speeds fall below a guaranteed minimum level, and to expanding the code to include cable companies.
Companies will be required to show the slower speeds people can experience at peak times, while the right to exit would also apply to contracts that include phone and pay-TV services bought with broadband.
A guaranteed minimum level of speed would have to be advertised at the point of sale.
Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s Consumer Group Director, said: “We want broadband shoppers to know what they’re buying, and what speeds to expect.
“So we plan to close the gap between what’s advertised and what’s delivered, giving customers a fuller picture before they commit to a contract.
“We’re also making it easier to walk away from a contract, without penalty, when companies fail to provide the speeds they promise.”
A final decision will be published early next year, Ofcom said.
BT and TalkTalk are the two most complained about broadband providers, according to Ofcom’s latest report for the three months to 30 June.
A BT spokesperson said: “We remain firmly supportive of Ofcom’s voluntary code of practice on broadband speeds, including the latest proposed changes which we hope will make things even clearer for our customers.
“We have been working with Ofcom and other ISPs to improve the code.
“We support the emphasis on customers’ knowing what broadband speeds will be delivered at peak times and we are happy to commit to letting customers leave without penalty if they don’t reach their minimum guaranteed speeds and we can’t fix the issue within a month.”
A TalkTalk spokesperson said: “As a business we understand how important having a fast, reliable internet connection is to our customers, which is why we give every customer an individual speed estimate before they sign up and in all our welcome communications.
“We remain committed to finding ways to make our service simpler, more reliable and even better value for money.
“That’s why we will continue to work closely with Ofcom and comply with their guidance."
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