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By: MarkJ - 2 March, 2010 (11:47 AM)
consumer problemsSeveral members of the House of Lords have tabled a new amendment to the UK Digital Economy Bill that would require Ofcom to establish a standard scheme for dealing with broadband complaints, faults and requests. The move could result in a much needed replacement to the controversial SFI system used by BT .

The current system is costly and often results in ISPs and BT passing the buck of responsibility for problems between each other (check out some of our related coverage HERE and HERE). PC Pro reports that the new scheme would seek to establish a clearer line of responsibility and prevent situations where a line repair might cause new problems, such as slower speeds.

The often outspoken Lord Erroll said:

"Let us say that you have got a fault on a line which has not been unbundled [ LLU ]: in other words, it is still in BT's ownership. You are paying BT Retail for the line, and you are paying an ISP to provide you with broadband over that line. It gets a service from BT Wholesale, which runs what is called the backhaul from the exchange onto the main internet. [BT] Openreach is responsible for maintaining and fixing any faults on the line. There are four service entities involved, and there may be more. There are Chinese walls between these, and there is a lot of buck-passing."

It's wonderful to hear that somebody is finally serious about tackling this problem, though it does sound a little too good to be true. Indeed this is quite a complicated addition to be proposing at such a late stage in the bill and perhaps unsurprisingly the political support for it is rather soft.

Ofcom has been asked by the ISPA to tackle this problem too, although to date any signs of progress are only notably by their consistent absence. As for complaints handling, well there is an official ADR scheme through CISAS or OTELO but you have to wait 8 long weeks for that. Hard luck if your connection is at fault (check our 'ISP Complaints and Advice' section for more).
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