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ISP Zen Internet Finally Joins Ofcom’s UK Broadband Speed Code

Friday, July 23rd, 2021 (10:31 am) - Score 2,184
zen internet uk isp

Rochdale-based UK ISP Zen Internet has today become one of the latest providers to sign-up to Ofcom’s voluntary 2019 Code of Practice on Broadband Speed, which gives residential consumers and businesses both more information on their estimated connection speeds and greater protection when things go wrong.

We should point out that Zen was already signed up to Ofcom’s prior code in 2015 and thus, technically speaking, they were already doing a lot of what the regulator required. By comparison, the 2019 code made a number of key changes, such as expanding the information that ISPs are required to provide at point of sale (e.g. the addition of estimates for upload speed) and ensuring that the speeds reflected are those recorded at busy (peak) times.

On top of that, the 2019 code allows ISPs one month to resolve a problem where the speed falls below the Minimum Guaranteed Access Line Speed (MGALS) for your line and if they fail then the customer must be allowed to exit their contract, penalty free. As part of that, supporting providers were also required to show the line’s MGALS download speed at the point of sale.

Various other changes were also introduced in the code (see the earlier link for our summary), but one of those in particular made it quite technically difficult and expensive for smaller, or medium-sized providers like Zen, to join up. Specifically, Ofcom’s code meant that ISPs would be required to test the actual speeds of a statistically meaningful panel of customers on each broadband package during peak time, which often required either custom code (firmware) in the router or expensive third-party kit.

Paul Stobart, CEO of Zen, said:

“We believe in behaving the right way, by doing the right thing by everyone. Rather than offering amazing deals that draw customers in only to raise prices mid or end of contract, Zen is committed to providing the best experience for our customers.

Our price for life promise is one example of doing the right thing to reward customer loyalty. We are now also increasing our transparency on speeds to match this vow to reward customer loyalty and deliver better broadband in a sustainable and ethical way.”

Zen’s announcement today doesn’t say why it took them so long to sign-up to the new code, but our guess would be that at least part of the reason related to the technical and cost barriers of the aforementioned speed testing principles.

Such issues continue to be a problem when you look at how few residential ISPs have agreed to support Ofcom’s 2019 code. Other than Zen, only BT, EE, PlusNet, TalkTalk, Utility Warehouse and Virgin Media have joined. Even some big players, such as Sky Broadband, KCOM and Vodafone, have decided not to join the code, but they do all support the prior 2015 code.

However, we do note that router-based speed testing firmware/solutions, such as from SamKnows (Super Agent) and ASSIA, are now becoming both more common and affordable. The reduction in barriers may result in more providers joining, although we remain deeply surprised that Sky Broadband still isn’t listed alongside the code.

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1 Response
  1. PS says:

    Ofcom needs to step up and turn this voluntary code into a compulsory code of practice.

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