Increasing transparency of businesses broadband speeds – Ofcom’s new voluntary Code of Practice for ISPs

Increasing transparency of businesses broadband speeds – Ofcom’s new voluntary Code of Practice for ISPs

Under a new voluntary Ofcom Code, Internet Service Providers commit to give businesses “clearer, more accurate and transparent information on broadband speeds before they sign up to a contract”. If the promised upload and download speeds fall below the guaranteed levels, businesses will be able to leave their contract with no penalties.

In June 2015, Ofcom launched an action plan for improving broadband services that are available to UK small and medium businesses.  SMEs were generally found to be uncertain about tariffs and offers of broadband contracts, partly because of the complexity of the communication services they require and a lack of in-house expertise. To help remedy this, Ofcom took steps to improve the accessibility of communications services for small businesses by expanding their business portal (providing practical to businesses) and by continuing to monitor switching by SMEs. As part of this action plan, Ofcom developed over the past few months with industry a Businesses Broadband Speed Code of Practice similar to the voluntary Broadband Speeds Code covering residential contracts.

Matthew Evans, CEO of the BSG, said “This is another demonstration of the commitment of ISPs to provide clear and accurate information to their customers, whether they are businesses or residential consumers. We are all working hard to better understand the connectivity requirements of smaller businesses in order to ensure that all UK companies can take advantage of the benefits of increased digital adoption”.

The new voluntary Business Code of Practice was launched on 26 January 2016 and commit signatories to:

  • provide businesses with an accurate estimate of their expected upload and download speeds when signing up

 

  • 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;

 

  • 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);

 

  • provide further detailed speeds information in writing to the customer after the sale.

 

Current signatories include seven of the UK’s specialist broadband providers for businesses:BT Business, Daisy Communications, KCOM, TalkTalk Business, Virgin Media, XLN and Zen. The Code will come into effect on 30 September 2016.

The BSG published a study into small businesses’ connectivity requirements last year building on previous primary research.

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