Customers will be able to exit contracts with broadband suppliers which fail to deliver promised speeds, under a new code of practice from telecoms regulator Ofcom, which came into effect 1 March.
ISPs will have to tell customers upfront how fast their connection will be during peak hours—weekdays 8pm to 10pm for domestic subscribers and 12pm to 2pm for businesses—when network traffic means speeds tend to lag.
Customers will also be guaranteed a minimum speed by providers before they sign a contract. If the connection fails to deliver that speed or if the ISP fails to improve speeds within a month of being notifying, customers can exit their contracts, including any bundles, without penalty.
“If your speed then drops below the promised level, the firm will have one month to improve performance, before allowing you to walk away without being penalised. You will also have the same right to exit any landline and TV packages you bought at the same time as your broadband service,” Ofcom said.
Adherence to the code of practice is voluntary but all of the major broadband providers, including BT, EE, Plusnet, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media, have signed on. Together these suppliers serve 95% of the UK’s domestic broadband customers. Other suppliers are expected to join.
The new code of practice was announced last year. Suppliers were given a year to improve their customers service systems to deliver the commitment.
Ofcom sad it would report on the firms’ performance next year.
Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s consumer group director, said: “When you sign a contract, you should be treated fairly and know exactly what you’re getting.”
“These protections mean broadband shoppers can buy with confidence. Before they sign up, customers will be told their minimum internet speed. And if companies break that promise, they’ll have to sort it out quickly, or let the customer walk away,” she added.