Ofcom provides new broadband protections for businesses header image

Published: 1st Feb 2016

Ofcom, the communications industry regulator, has announced new measures designed to give businesses more protection when it comes to their broadband services.

Under a new Ofcom Code, firms will receive more accurate and reliable information about the speeds they should receive.

Providers signed up to the code - including BT Business, Virgin Media and TalkTalk Business - will be obligated to give businesses clearer and more accurate information about the broadband speeds available, before they sign up to a contract.

Signatories will also commit to effective management of any problems that commercial customers have with their broadband provision and will allow penalty-free exits from contracts at any time if internet speeds fall below a minimum guaranteed level.

Announcing the new measures, Ofcom said it had become concerned about a 'speeds gap' - the difference between what customers think they are paying for and the actual service delivered.

Research by the regulator uncovered confusion among businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) , about how the actual speed of their broadband services related to the maximum speeds often featured in adverts.

One in five SMEs (20 per cent) said they were not satisfied they were receiving the speeds they had paid for.

Sharon White, chief executive of Ofcom, said making sure consumers receive the best possible communications services is the organisation's biggest priority.

"That includes businesses getting the broadband speeds they need," she continued. "Yet too many buy unsuitable broadband packages because of confusing or insufficient sales information, or are hampered by slow speeds after they've signed on the dotted line.

"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."

It was recently reported that many small businesses in Norfolk were being affected by unreliable or non-existent broadband, a problem that is proving particularly troublesome for sole traders and those who work from home, who could benefit from using alternatives like satellite broadband.