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Forcing broadband providers to guarantee speeds and refunding customers for failing to deliver could lead to higher broadband prices across the board, according to critics of recent calls for speed guarantees.

Last week, a consumer watchdog argued that ISPs need to begin offering guaranteed broadband speeds, in order to remove uncertainty when customers sign up to new deals and ensure a minimum level of service.

However, the calls have been met with resistance from many members of the industry, including broadband supplier Entanet, which pointed out that there are already plenty of safeguards in place, including ISPs giving consumers a prior estimate of their expected speed.

Furthermore, Ofcom has set its own rules to tackle problems, including the ability to leave a contract without penalty if an issue cannot be resolved.

As such, any kind of guarantee would end up impacting the consumers says Entanet, which pointed out that a customer’s connection speed can be affected by a number of factors, from poor home wiring to slow Wi-Fi links and line faults, many of which are not the fault of the broadband provider.

Entanet Product Manager Paul Heritage-Redpath commented: "Anyone can have a line with a guaranteed speed on it today, but it involves laying fibre; a technology that uses light, which has negligible deterioration with distance and which is not affected by weather.

"Digging holes for it costs much more than consumers are willing or able to pay though, which is why only businesses currently enjoy guaranteed speeds. Broadband products are in their very nature contended services, shared by others to keep the cost low."

He went on to say that ISPs would need to raise their prices across the board if customer refunds and even greater freedom was enabled.

As such, customers would bear the cost of the activation and cease fees that ISPs pay the incumbent infrastructure provider for supplying broadband - which could see the upfront price of a broadband package go up by at least £75.

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