Broadband customers can now get personalised speed estimates

14 December 2020

People shopping around for a better broadband deal will get personalised speed estimates from providers before they take out a new contract, under strengthened Ofcom protections that are now in place.

In March 2019, we made major changes to our broadband speeds codes of practice. These changes mean that if you’re looking to switch or upgrade your broadband, providers signed up to the codes must:

  • give you a minimum guaranteed speed before you sign up to a new broadband deal, without having to ask for it;
  • tell you what speeds to expect during peak times when everyone’s online; and
  • let you walk away from your contract without being penalised if speeds drop below the guaranteed level.

Previously, this minimum guaranteed speed has been based on data from a group of customers whose properties have similar characteristics – for example, distance from the exchange or street cabinet, which can affect speeds on copper lines.

For superfast broadband products, this information is now based on the capability of the line going into your individual house or office, which means it will be more accurate.

Many major broadband firms – BT, Daisy, EE, Plusnet, TalkTalk, Utility Warehouse, Virgin Media and XLN – are signed up to our codes of practice. However, Plusnet has not made this change in time. We are discussing this with them regularly and urging them to implement it as quickly as possible.

Better information before you buy broadband

When you buy a broadband service from a provider signed up to the broadband speeds codes of practice, you should receive some important information without having to ask for it, before you commit to a contract. This includes accurate information on how fast your broadband will be.

You should get the estimated speed you are likely to experience at busy times of the day, when average speeds are often lower. These times are 8-10pm for home services, and 12-2pm for business services.

These providers should also always provide a minimum guaranteed speed for your broadband service when you choose it. They should do this if you are an existing customer looking to upgrade to a faster service, or if you are thinking of switching to them from your current provider.

Your right to exit

If you think your broadband is slower than it should be, contact your provider to diagnose the problem. If your provider is signed up to the codes and the problem lies within their network, they must offer you the right to exit your contract without being penalised if they can’t fix it within 30 days.

This right to exit also applies to ‘bundled’ products, such as landline services on the same line, or pay-TV services purchased at the same time as the broadband service.

If your broadband speed is slowing you down, it’s never been simpler to switch. And you might even save money too, especially if you’re out of contract. We’ve pushed broadband companies to give you more accurate information about the speeds you’ll get, so you know what you’re signing up to.

Selina Chadha, Ofcom’s Director of Connectivity

You can check what speed you’re getting by using Ofcom’s broadband speed checker. If you want to run the most accurate possible speed test, use a computer or tablet that can be connected to your router with an ‘ethernet’ cable, as wifi can slow down the signal.

To find out what speed you should be getting, check your contract or ask your provider.

If your service doesn’t start on the agreed date, or if your engineer appointment is missed, most providers will compensate you under the Automatic Compensation Scheme.