Internet service providers (ISPs) are drafting a code of conduct in a bid to see off regulation of the mobile broadband sector from the government, it has been reported, despite the logistical problems that this presents.
According to Guardian contributor Richard Wray, the new code will take on a similar form to its predecessor for fixed-line broadband. This means it is likely to include stipulations intended to move towards greater transparency regarding actual connection speeds that mobile broadband customers can expect.
The code also included a pledge that ISPs will offer assistance to customers in improving their speed and bound companies to offer customers an alternative package if they are receiving a speed that is lower than their estimate. Both of these clauses are also thought likely to figure in the mobile broadband code.
The introduction of the code by ISPs follows pressure from Ofcom, which has threatened to censure companies whose broadband speeds did not match those that were advertised. How far these pledges from ISPs will prove effective has yet to be established, since they have only been in force for a month.
Responding to the news, Jessica McArdle, marketing manager at Top 10 Broadband, welcomed the collaborative effort from broadband companies. She said: “Bringing the same code of practice to bear on the mobile broadband sector is overdue and it can only have a positive effect on the experience of UK consumers. Plus, it’s great to see companies in the ordinarily cut-throat broadband sector working together for a change.”
However, it has been suggested that mobile broadband providers will likely struggle to provide accurate information over mobile broadband speeds. This is because they largely depend upon factors such as the location of the user, the distance they are from the transmitter, the network coverage and the number of people who are on the network.
News of the expansion of the code to take in mobile broadband comes amid huge growth in demand for the service in the UK. In a recent report from the telecommunications watchdog Ofcom it was discovered that between February and June last year the number of dongle sales in the UK doubled from around 69,000 per month to 133,000. This surge meant that over the five month period, some 511,000 new mobile broadband connections were established.
And yet according to some networks, customers have been returning dongles in unprecedented numbers citing poor connectivity and slow speeds. This is believed to have acted as a further stimulus for the broadband providers’ code to be extended to mobile broadband.