ISPs Told to Give Better Speed Estimates, Including Peak Contention Crunches

By Gary Cutlack on at

Communications regulator Ofcom is having about its fiftieth shot at making the ISPs sell us broadband in a more honest way, this time asking for clearer indications of lower-end speeds and real-world estimates of evening contention.

The new Ofcom code of practice wants providers to give customers a minimum guaranteed speed they can expect when they sign up, which comes with the option of exiting the contract with no penalties should the speed fall below that level and not be sorted out within one month. ISPs are also being asked to estimate and advertise what peak time speeds are likely to be, as high levels of contention on the lines when everyone's trying to stream the week's hot new thing can impact download averages.

Consumers should also be allowed to ditch all of their bundled supplies without penalty should they want to switch providers due to poor broadband performance, meaning no one should end up stuck with their TV and landline from one provider and their internet switched to another. The bad news is that the technical demands to better monitor speeds means the ISPs have been given one entire year to implement these changes, which come in from March of 2019.

Ofcom's Lindsey Fussell said: "These protections will close the gap between the broadband speeds people are sold, and what they actually receive. And to give people extra confidence, we are making it easier to walk away -- without penalty -- if companies fail to deliver." [Ofcom]