Statement published 1 March 2018
Broadband is an essential service for people and businesses, who increasingly rely on the internet for a wide range of activities.
The speed at which a broadband connection downloads data is an important factor when customers buy a broadband service. Customers therefore need realistic information, both at the point of sale and in their contract, about the broadband speeds they can expect to experience.
Ofcom already has codes of practice on broadband speeds for residential and business customers, which require signatories to provide customers with estimates of the speeds they are likely to receive at the point of sale. In addition, they give customers the right to exit their contracts, without penalty, if their download speed falls below a minimum level.
This document sets out our decisions on the changes to the codes of practice to improve the information provided to customers and strengthen customers’ rights to exit.
In March 2019, we made major changes to our broadband speeds codes of practice. These changes mean broadband shoppers are now given a minimum guaranteed speed before signing up to a new deal, are told what to expect during peak times when everyone’s online, and can walk away from their contract more easily if speeds drop below the guaranteed level.
Currently, for most connections this information is based on data from a group of customers whose properties have similar characteristics – for example, distance from the exchange or street cabinet. These characteristics can affect speed on copper lines. However, in future many of these customers will get a speed estimate based on the capability of the line going into their individual house or office.
Implementing these changes will require providers to upgrade their systems. Companies that are signed up to the codes of practice have agreed to do this by 15 November 2020.