UK businesses will receive more accurate and reliable information on broadband speeds before they sign up to a contract, under new protections that come into force today.
As part of a new Ofcom Code, providers also commit to resolve any problems that businesses have with broadband speeds effectively, and allow customers to exit their contract at any point if speeds fall below a minimum guaranteed level.1
So far, BT Business, Daisy Communications, KCOM, TalkTalk Business, Virgin Media, XLN and Zen have signed up to the voluntary Code. Together, they provide a service to around two thirds of small or medium sized enterprises (SMEs) who have standard broadband.2
Addressing the ‘speeds gap’
Ofcom research found that some businesses - particularly SMEs - were confused about how the ‘actual’ speed of their broadband service compared to the ‘headline’maximum speed used in advertising.
Not all providers were giving personalised speed estimates to businesses during the sales process, the study found, while a fifth (20%) of SMEs were not satisfied they were getting the speeds they had paid for.
Under Ofcom’s new Code, businesses taking a new broadband service will, for the first time, enjoy a similar level of protection as residential broadband users - whose interests are already safeguarded under an existing Code.3
Lindsey Fussell, Director of Ofcom's Consumer Group, said: “Ofcom's job is to make sure that everyone across the UK is getting the best possible communications services. We are concerned that too many businesses are not receiving the broadband speeds they expect when they sign their contract.
“So broadband companies have agreed to give clear and accurate information on speeds upfront so business customers can make more informed decisions. We've also made it easier for businesses to walk away from their broadband contract without penalty if speeds fall below the levels guaranteed by their provider.”
Mike Cherry, National Chairman for the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “A broadband service that small businesses can rely on is essential for a modern business. It’s impossible to underestimate how much this matters to small business owners, whose sales and customer relations so often rely on a stable connection. FSB members are clear about their need for clear and accurate information about both the download and upload speeds they can expect at the point of sale.
“The new Code of Practice coming into effect this week is a timely and well targeted intervention in the business broadband market by Ofcom which FSB is pleased to support." With more accurate and transparent information at the point of sale, small businesses right across the UK will be able to make better decisions. The ability to walk away from a contract if speeds fall below guaranteed levels will be especially welcomed by business owners.”
Scope and key principles of the Code
The new Code applies to all businesses, regardless of size, and to all standard business broadband services across all technologies (including Fibre to the Cabinet and Fibre to the Premises services).4
The internet service providers (ISPs) who have signed up promise to:
Ofcom is inviting all providers of business broadband to sign up to the Code. Mystery shopping will be carried out, to check if these providers are complying with both the letter and spirit of the Code, and Ofcom will also continue to assess the Code’s effectiveness while considering other ways to improve communication of broadband speeds.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
+44 (0)300 123 1795