Signatories to voluntary code will be required to offer businesses more clarity on broadband speeds, according to regulator
UK businesses will be given more detailed information on broadband in order to tackle the “speed gap” between advertised speeds, and those experienced.
As part of a new code announced by Ofcom, providers have agreed to offer businesses more accurate, reliable and transparent information on broadband speeds prior to signing any contract.
The code is voluntary, meaning not all providers will provide the additional information, but seven of the UK’s top providers – BT Business, Daisy Communications, KCOM, TalkTalk Business, Virgin Media, XLN and Zen – had signed up as Mobile News went to press.
Signatories to the code will commit to manage problems businesses experience with broadband speeds more effectively, and offer a guaranteed minimum speed. If customers experience speeds below this, they can exit the contract.
Ofcom Chief Executive Sharon White said: “Ensuring consumers get the best possible communications services is Ofcom’s top priority. And that includes businesses getting the broadband speeds they need. Yet too many buy unsuitable broadband packages because of confusing or insufficient sales information, or are hampered by slow speeds after they’ve signed on the dotted line.
“Where broadband companies fail to provide the speeds they promise, we’ve made it easier for businesses to walk away from their contracts without penalty. Providers have also agreed to give clear and reliable speeds information upfront so business customers can make more informed decisions.”
The new code will apply to businesses of all size and cover all standard broadband connections.
The code will come into effect from September 30, and Ofcom is inviting all providers to sign up.
Policy director for the Federation of Small Businesses Mike Cherry said: “A dependable broadband connection is now essential for almost every aspect of modern business life. Everything from driving online sales, customer relations and accessing data held in the cloud relies on a stable broadband connection. Yet small business dissatisfaction with broadband providers appears to be widespread and deeply felt.
“The new Code of Practice announced by Ofcom is a timely and well targeted intervention in the business broadband market. To plan effectively, firms need accurate information on what speeds they can expect, and how much this will vary. Business owners should be able easily to compare suppliers and exit a contract early if their communications provider does not deliver the speeds promised.”
Providers who have signed up have promised to:
· provide businesses with an accurate estimate of their expected speeds when signing up. This covers both download and upload speeds, which are particularly important to businesses as they can send large amounts of data;
· manage their business customers’ speed-related problems effectively, and offer them the right to exit their contract without penalty if speeds fall below the minimum guaranteed level;5
· give additional relevant speeds information at the point of sale (for example, how the provider manages internet traffic on its network, and how this might affect a customer’s speed); and
· provide further detailed speeds information in writing to the customer after the sale.