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Will new Ofcom codes make broadband speeds and pricing clearer?

Has your business been affected by slow broadband or unexpected broadband costs? From 30th May 2016, a new advertising code will come into play that will affect the way connectivity providers promote broadband services.

Recent research conducted jointly by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and Ofcom reveals the current approach to presenting pricing is likely to confuse or mislead consumers or businesses about the true cost of deals.

The study revealed that 81% of participants were not able to calculate correctly the total cost of a broadband contract and ¾ s of those asked found that information about one off and ongoing costs after an introductory period was either fairly or very unclear.

Anthony Temperton of KAT Communications says “In a largely untrusted industry this is not a surprise. Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) do tend to lead with a promotional figure but don’t highlight other charges such as line rental charges, router chargers or even delivery fees. We are in full support of the proposed changes but realistically change can only be achieved if the industry comes together. If only some ISP’s follow the code, it isn’t going to work

The new code isn’t written in stone and is seen as a set of suggestions, which will become clearer as adjudications are made over time and the boundaries of what’s considered acceptable are determined.The new rules should mean adverts (which include a provider’s own website) should be all-inclusive on all costs; this means including line rental cost and extras like the delivery cost of hardware. Additionally, set-up fees should be made more noticeable along with contract length.

Anthony added “Though we can see why costs are sometimes a key driver, the whole buying experience should be reviewed including contract length and notice period. We regularly talk to businesses who believe they have signed a 12-month contract to find out they have to give 3 months’ notice after the 12 months to leave. 12 months should be 12 months. However, this code alongside the recent Ofcom code regards broadband speeds for business broadband is a sound starting point.

These proposals are part of a bigger focus on bringing more clarity around broadband products for small to medium sized (SME) businesses. A recent Ofcom code of practice due to be launched will give SMEs new rights to walk away from their broadband contracts without penalty should speeds fall below a minimum guaranteed level.

Sharon White, chief executive of Ofcom said, “Too many SMEs were buying unsuitable products either due to their own confusion or due to what amounted as mis-selling from ISPs. Where broadband companies fail to provide the speeds they promise, we’ve made it easier for businesses to walk away from their contracts without penalty. Providers have also agreed to give clear and reliable speeds information upfront so business customers can make more informed decisions,”

What is your experience of your broadband provider? Are you getting the speed you have been sold? Do you know your true broadband cost? Contact KAT today via 01302 260195 or enquiries@katcommunications.co.uk for a free broadband review.

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