Broadband providers will have to tell customers how fast their internet speed is supposed to be, before they sign a contract, thanks to new Ofcom rules enforced from today.
Under the regulator’s new Code of Practice, customers can cancel their contract, penalty free, if their broadband speeds drop below the promised levels.
Although the code is voluntary, most of the major suppliers have signed up and agreed to the terms, including BT, EE, Plusnet, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media, who supply around 95 per cent of home broadband customers.
Customers must also be given a minimum guaranteed speed at the point of sale, under the new rules.
Companies will have to tell customers how fast their broadband will be in on peak times as well
Not only should broadband providers reveal what the guaranteed speed is expected to be, it must also tell customers the slowest speeds they can expect to have.
Suppliers who agree to the Code must agree to the terms, no matter what their broadband technology is, for example, copper wire, superfast, full fibre or cable.
The new rules is part of Ofcom’s ‘Fairness for Customers’ policy, which ensures people get a fairer deal and are treated well by their providers.
However, these rules only apply to new contracts that are taken out from March 1, so if the speeds drop on your current broadband deal, you won’t be able to cancel penalty free – unless you’re outside of your minimum contract.
Richard Neudegg, head of regulation at uSwitch, said: ‘The rules around broadband speeds are being tightened, extending the ability of consumers get out of contracts penalty-free when reported serious speeds problems are not resolved within 30 days.
‘This should be welcome news for any customers blighted by the frustrations of relentlessly buffering broadband.
‘This new Code also improves the property-specific information about speeds that broadband providers have to give before you sign up.
‘This is welcome, but providers should go further in opening up this information so that consumers are able to make side-by-side comparisons between providers, so that they can make the best choice.
‘Broadband providers have had a year to prepare for this, so now the onus is very much on them to provide more transparency and consistency in their service.
How to get the fastest broadband
For broadband it’s all about switching – and around one in three broadband customers are out of contract which means they’re likely to be paying too much for their broadband.
Ofcom’s latest data also shows that only three in 20 broadband customers contacted their existing provider proactively and renegotiated their deal last year.
Often people can switch and get a faster speed for the same price they were paying out of contract.
Some 56 per cent of people believe it is possible to get ‘superfast’ broadband in their area but 95 per cent of customers should have access to ‘superfast’ speeds.
If you’re frustrated with your speeds you should shop around. By using price comparison sites, customers can check to see if they can get a cheaper – and faster – deal.