Slow broadband contracts can be cancelled with no penalty, Ofcom rules

Under new rules from Ofcom, internet service providers (ISPs) will have to start providing new customers with “realistic” speeds from 2019 before they sign on the dotted line.

ISPs will also be obliged to set a minimum internet speed and internet users will be able to cancel their contracts without exit penalty if the issue is not rectified within 30 days.

Although broadband customers can technically exit their contract if speeds fall below the guaranteed level and their provider is unable fix them, currently ISPs have an unlimited amount of time to resolve the problem before letting users leave.

This right to exit a contract will also apply, for the first time, to landline and TV packages bought together with broadband. Customers will no longer be tied to a TV contract bought at the same time as their broadband if speeds fall short of what was promised and they decide to leave.

The new rules will come into effect on 1 March 2019, giving providers time to adapt their services to the new rules.

“Broadband customers must know what they’re signing up to,” Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s consumer group director said.

“These protections will close the gap between the broadband speeds people are sold and what they actually receive. And to give people extra confidence, we are making it easier to walk away - without penalty - if companies fail to deliver.”

Alex Neill, managing director at Which?, said: “Consumers have told us that they feel confused about the broadband speeds they are likely to get and the service they pay for, so further steps to help inform customers and empower them to walk away without facing a penalty are welcome.

“Providers signed up to the code need to move quickly to implement these changes, so that broadband customers are given a realistic expectation of the speed they should experience before they commit to a contract.”

Everyone living in the UK will be guaranteed a broadband speed of at least 10Mbps by 2020 under the government’s Universal Service Obligation (USO). 

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