Seven ISPs, including BT, TalkTalk and Virgin Media, sign up for new voluntary code that will allow businesses to exit contract without penalty if speeds don’t measure up
A new broadband code will ensure businesses enjoy the same rights as consumers, including the ability to exit a contract without penalty if speeds fall below guaranteed levels, once it comes into effect from September 30.
Seven providers – BT Business, Daisy Communications, KCOM, TalkTalk Business, Virgin Media, XLN and Zen – have signed up for the voluntary code, meaning two thirds of all businesses will be covered.
“Ensuring consumers get the best possible communications services is Ofcom’s top priority,” said Ofcom CEO Sharon White. “And that includes businesses getting the broadband speeds they need. 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. Providers have also agreed to give clear and reliable speeds information upfront so business customers can make more informed decisions.”
Under the regulations, first proposed last year, providers will have to provide accurate estimates of speeds before, during and after sale and promise to assist with any problems encountered during the contract.
Ofcom says many businesses are confused by the difference between headline and actual speeds, fuelling the move to ensure companies of all sizes are protected and able to receive more detailed information.
A portal for SMBs was launched last year, offering businesses advice on how to choose a broadband provider and how to resolve complaints. Ofcom plans to improve this by reminding providers of their regulatory obligation to provide information on their website so businesses can compare and contrast packages.
“We welcome Ofcom’s initiative to provide better protection to small businesses by introducing a code of practice that ensures they receive the service expected. Virgin Media Business is proud to be a signatory of the code and we’re committed to helping SMEs achieve their full digital potential by offering the UK’s fastest, widely available business broadband speeds,” said Peter Kelly, managing director of Virgin Media Business.
“Connectivity is increasingly the lifeblood of business and we had no hesitation in signing up to Ofcom’s new Business Broadband Speeds Code of Conduct,” added Jon Nowell, head of product at TalkTalk Business. “We are always working to make it easier and cheaper for businesses to make the most of our digital age, and this is just another sign of our commitment to making British businesses better off.”
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