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Broadband providers should offer more flexible pricing structures, accounting for variations in service quality, it has been suggested.

Richard Brown, Chief Operating Officer at campaign organisation wispa Limited, said firms should advertise 'up to' prices in a similar way to 'up to' broadband speeds.

This would inform consumers at the point of purchase that they may not be able to receive the full, advertised service benefits, depending on issues such as location, latency and line quality.

And where subscribers cannot take advantage of the advertised download speeds, Mr Brown believes they should not have to pay full price.

"If there was an effort to limit the advertising and to give people a better idea of what they are going to buy or have a more variable charging structure, then potentially customers [would] have reasonable expectations of what it is they are going to receive," he stated.

"What I would like to see is [broadband providers] actually taking their own initiative, [because] we can't rely on the regulator."

Mr Brown said he does not expect broadband charging mechanisms to change any time soon, because Ofcom is very unlikely to take this step.

In order for any real progress to be made on the 'up to' pricing campaign, either Ofcom must be replaced or service providers must take the step voluntarily, he suggested.

"If one of the bigger players stood up and said 'we aren't forced to do this, but if you don't get the level of service that we think you should, or we can't predict that you will, we will charge you a variable proportion'," Mr Brown stated.

"If they said 'we aren't going to be able to provide 20Mb to you, we are only going to be able to provide 12, but what we will do is charge you £3 a month less' - that would start to demonstrate innovation and change in the industry."

He said this is "absolutely necessary" if the UK is to compete with major nations that have left us behind.

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