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November 10, 2017

Ofcom goes to war against bad broadband with automatic compensation

Calling up broadband providers over poor service could soon be over as Ofcom release new regulations.

By April Slattery

UK landline and broadband providers must improve their services across the UK following a move by Ofcom to introduce automatic compensation.

A new initiative commissioned by the regulator outlines stricter requirements for service providers, giving customers automatic compensation if they do not receive the service they signed up for.

Pay-outs of up to £142m are expected to be given by providers, without customers even having to report problems like slow repairs, missed appointments or delayed installations in order to receive a payout.

Among those being hit with the new initiative are the likes of  BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media, who together serve around 90% of landline and broadband customers.

Currently only 15% of customers who receive inadequate services will receive compensation, with most customers not knowing who to call in the event of poor broadband service. With the initiative, Ofcom hopes to compensate a larger proportion of customers experiencing poor broadband services.

Ofcom goes to war against bad broadband with automatic compensation

Ofcom put pressure on providers for reliable access and speed.

Broadband providers could be hit hard in the pocket if recent figures from ViaSat are anything to go by, with only one in five saying their broadband service consistently meets the standards they were promised by providers. Furthermore, over half of UK consumers surveyed by the communications firm said that their home broadband service cuts out every month or more.

Marc Agnew, ViaSat EMEA VP, said: “Britain needs a more consistent and better performing internet serving the entire population. These protections should help improve the industry, with service providers being more realistic about the speeds they can deliver to a given street address.”

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Almost three quarters of the country are unsurprisingly frustrated at the service speeds they receive in comparison to what they paid for, with those aged 16-35 found to be the most fed up. Introducing Ofcom’s new scheme will compensate customers with up to £25 per day depending on their problem.

Ofcom’s review is definitely a step in the right direction to ensure reliable broadband across the UK, but the review somewhat strays away from bigger problems across broadband services.

Instead of aiming to improve the service as a whole across the country, Ofcom primarily focuses on ensuring officials from broadband providers are improving the service that they are actively offering as opposed to increasing the number of people who use the services.

Marc Agnew, ViaSat EMEA VP, said: “Ofcom is focusing on the people who can already get broadband, and compensating them if the service is unreliable. However, it ignores the millions who can’t get broadband.

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“Ofcom’s proposal is intended to cause incumbents to improve the reliability of the services they offer today, but that’s not going to motivate them to expand their footprint to the underserved and unserved population. On the contrary, it’s going to motivate investment in already well served areas.

“Fundamentally, Britain needs a more consistent and better performing internet serving the entire population. The prospects and GDP of every developed country today is intrinsically linked to the health of their digital economy,” said the ViaSat exec.

Encouraging the big name home providers to take part in the automatic compensation scheme will hopefully eliminate the number of problems customers are facing, and allow providers to focus on stretching their services elsewhere.

Although this is a positive step for those using the services, it shows the continued struggle to get the UK connected with super-fast broadband.

 

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