A new Ofcom Code of Practice on broadband speeds came into force on 1 March. The Code is part of Ofcom’s work to promote fairness for customers, ensuring that people get a fair deal and are treated well by their communications providers.

Under the Code, broadband firms must give customers a minimum guaranteed speed before they buy a service. If the speed then drops below the promised level the provider will have one month to improve performance. If the speed is not improved the customer will have the right to walk away from the agreement without being penalised.

Similar “right to exit” protections apply to any landline and television packages that were bought at the same time as the broadband service.

Another requirement is that broadband firms must be upfront about what speeds a customer will receive during the peak times of 8.00pm to 10.00pm for homes and 12.00pm to 2.00pm for businesses. This requirement has been introduced because broadband is typically not as fast during these busiest times of the day.

Ofcom’s Fairness for Customers campaign applies whether customers are switching to a new provider or changing their current package. All of the major broadband providers have signed up to the new Code, including BT, EE, Plusnet, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media. Together these companies serve around 95% of UK home broadband customers.

Announcing the implementation of the Code of Practice, 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.

“These protections mean broadband shoppers can buy with confidence. Before they sign up, customers will be told their minimum internet speed. And if companies break that promise, they’ll have to sort it out quickly, or let the customer walk away.”

Ofcom state that they will closely monitor the compliance of providers with the new requirements and will report on their performance next year.

Other new measures within the Ofcom Fairness for Customers programme to improve broadband include:

  • a major new information campaign and website, Boost Your Broadband, to help people get faster broadband and save money

  • plans for companies to tell customers about their best available deal when their contracts are coming to an end, and every year after that if they retain their current deal

  • a review of broadband pricing to find out why some customers pay more than others.

Further details about the broadband speeds Codes of Practice can be found on the Ofcom website.

Last reviewed 6 March 2019