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Ofcom Revising Broadband Speed Code of Practice for UK ISPs

Friday, Mar 21st, 2014 (1:49 pm) - Score 1,083
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The communications regulator has confirmed to ISPreview.co.uk that they’re currently working to finalise a number of revisions to their Voluntary Code of Practice for Broadband Speeds, which requires ISPs to adhere to a certain set of standards when communicating what performance a customer can expect to receive.

At present ISPs who have signed up to the Code commit to give consumers a more accurate and consistent estimate of the maximum speed achievable on their line, which also includes a requirement to publish clearer and more detailed information on any Fair Usage Policies (FUP) or Traffic Management measures.

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The member ISPs (list) also agree to help consumers resolve any problems where speeds fall significantly below the original estimate for their line, which if the issue cannot be resolved includes the ability to leave their provider (without penalty) within the first 3 months of a contract.

But in light of today’s new campaign by Which? (here), and not to mention the imminent release of Ofcom’s next fixed line broadband speeds report, we decided to ask whether the regulator was still happy with their code of practice. The short answer is that Ofcom are happy and they claim it’s working, although some changes will be introduced.

The revisions are currently being finalised but Ofcom said that the updated code would remain voluntary for ISPs, although they are proposing to improve the signposting of information to consumers and to ensure that it is “effectively serving consumers’ needs“, particularly in light of the increased take-up of superfast broadband packages. The original code was designed when slower ADSL based services were the only choice, outside of Virgin Media’s cable platform and a few niche alternatives.

However the updated code is expected to be completed over the coming months, which suggests that we might not see the end result until the regulator’s autumn speeds report. In addition, it must be noted that there are actually two speed codes (the 2008 [v1.0] and the current 2010 [v2.0] edition) and only the latest 2010 version includes the ability to leave your contract without penalty (though most of the member ISPs are the same for each).

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We suspect that the changes won’t be enough to dissuade the codes critics from thinking that it’s still not tough enough. But then more often than not the problems with performance aren’t so much caused by your ISP as poor home wiring, slow wifi links or the underlying infrastructure, the latter of which is usually managed by BTOpenreach (exception for Virgin Media and some smaller altnet ISPs).

If only everything was truly always the ISPs fault then this would be a lot easier.

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Mark-Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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