Broadband speeds need further regulation, says Which?

We’ve all experienced less-than-desirable broadband speeds at some point – but what of those of us who are permanently stuck with our Mbps trickling along well-below the advertised rate? Long-standing consumer magazine, Which?, is calling for speeds to be guaranteed.

In fact based on a survey carried out on its behalf; 45% of customers suffer slow download speeds with over half of those experiencing slow speeds frequently or all of the time.

For an age somewhat reliant on constant internet connectivity; it’s important not only for personal use, but for keeping the wider-economy competitive. UK regulator, Ofcom, says that measures are already in place for those customers which are suffering with speed-related issues.

There is a voluntary “code of practice” in-place which providers can sign-up to which means customers must be given a written estimate of their download speeds at the start of their contract – and if the speed drops significantly – they can leave without penalty.

A “mystery shopper” exercise by Ofcom has proved that the code is working effectively for those involved. But how many providers have willingly signed-up, and how many customers are aware of said code’s existence – is a whole other matter.

Which? suggests that the code should be compulsory and that providers need to go further to provide an accurate speed expected at their contracted address. To further educate customers, information would ideally be provided displaying what can be achieved at different speeds – along with clear guidance on how to test these speeds.

The survey was not necessarily as concise as it could have been – participants were simply asked whether they experienced “buffering” or slow download speeds. Factors such as wireless signal strengths, or whether several people were sharing the connection at once – were not accounted for and could have had a big impact on the results.

Further results from the survey showed that 20% contacted their ISP “at least three times” to try and resolve a problem with their connection, whilst a quarter of participants had to wait two days to get their service fixed… one in 10 waiting a week or more.

“The internet is an essential part of modern life, yet millions of us are getting frustratingly slow speeds and having to wait days to get reconnected when things go wrong,” said Which? executive director Richard Lloyd.

Do you think broadband providers should be expected to do more?

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