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Ofcom is making it even easier to check broadband speeds before you buy

Fresh updates to existing rules will make buying broadband simpler

This year, Ofcom is updating its new code of practice for broadband providers to help you get an even better sense of how fast your connection will be before you make a purchase.

Under the new system, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like BT and Virgin Media will have to give potential customers a personalised broadband speed estimate before they check out.

As it stands, ISPs are required to give a minimum guaranteed speed prior to purchase. This data is gathered from a group of existing customers whose home connections share certain similarities with the prospective customer: things like distance from the street cabinet, for example.

Ofcom explains that in the future, the speed estimate offered prior to purchase will be (mostly) tailored to the individual. For example, many homes and businesses are due to benefit from a Fibre to the Property (FTTP) upgrade courtesy of either Openreach or Virgin Media over the coming months/years, and so speed estimates will be tailored accordingly.

The code of practice being updated this month was first announced back in October 2017. Ofcom laid the groundwork with a statement document that took aim at the way broadband providers advertised their services; ISPs were told to make changes to better reflect actual speeds, particularly during peak hours, in advertising material.

The statement document in question also introduced the rules that now require broadband providers to offer a minimum guaranteed speed – and to inform potential customers of their right to end their contract if their speeds consistently fall below said minimum.

In a nutshell, this update refines the existing rules to further de-mystify broadband speed estimates.  A personalised estimate should mean that there are no surprises at your broadband performance once connected, as it’ll be your line examined rather than lines like yours.

To accommodate the new rules, Ofcom explains, participating broadband providers will need to update their websites and other systems – they have until 15 November 2020 to do so.

You can find out more about Ofcom’s Fairness for Customers initiative using this link.

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