Clear and honest broadband information

“Clear and honest information before you buy broadband.” That headline comes from the Ofcom website as it introduced its new broadband code of practice which came into force on 1 March 2019. This new code, which has been signed up to by all the major broadband providers, is one element of Ofcom’s drive towards promoting fairness for private and business broadband customers.

Key elements of the new code of practice include a requirement to provide more realistic speed estimates at the point of sale, alongside a guaranteed minimum broadband speed. These are designed to move broadband providers away from the practice of quoting speeds up to a certain level, thereby giving customers unrealistic expectations of broadband performance. In addition, customers can walk away penalty free if speeds fall below guaranteed minimum levels.

The new code applies irrespective of whether customers are in receipt of copper, fibre or cable broadband services. It is applicable both for customers switching broadband providers and for those who are changing their existing broadband package whilst remaining with the same supplier.

Whilst the broadband code of practice will not help those who may not be able to receive a fast broadband service due to their geographical location, having certainty about the minimum speed provided will help individuals and businesses to both understand and optimise their broadband usage. For example, having a realistic assessment of broadband speeds could help organisations to explore whether the use of VoIP is a realistic option for their business.

VoIP, or voice over internet protocol, is a way of making telephone calls over the internet. VoIP calls between users on the same network are free, with cost savings also being seen on VoIP to landline or VoIP to mobile calls. For businesses this therefore represents a viable cost saving option, particularly if businesses have outlying offices or home workers. Add in the option of connecting to VoIP via a downloadable smartphone app and it is easy to see how organisations whose people regularly travel on business could make a measurable saving in telephony costs.

However, the option to use VoIP telephony does require a reliable broadband connection with a minimum upload and download speed and bandwidth. Callagenix recommends that organisations opt for a business grade broadband service with a minimum bandwidth of 100K bits per second. Businesses which intend to make multiple simultaneous VoIP calls will obviously need to ensure that their broadband package is robust enough to handle expected demand levels and having certainty of speed will help in that evaluation. In certain instances it may be advisable to opt for a dedicated VoIP broadband line. This will help to ensure the quality of VoIP calls; particularly in cases where there is already substantial broadband use, perhaps through surfing or the regular transfer of large files.

Commenting on the new code 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,” adding “and if companies break that promise, they’ll have to sort it out quickly, or let the customer walk away.”

Written by Alison