Broadband users with slow connections will soon have a right to switch providers, Ofcom announced today (June 11th).
The regulator's new chief executive Sharon White is to use her first speech to call on internet service providers (ISPs) to also make contracts clearer to customers and have processes in place to handle complaints more effectively.
White told a Which? conference that providers will also have to offer better information on alternative products and do their best to compare the various deals on offer.
The move comes on the back of the announcement of Ofcom's new monitoring and enforcement programme, which the regulator claims will help to keep an eye on broadband providers that make it difficult to cancel contracts.
However, White's comments suggest Ofcom may go even further than just monitoring the market and could give consumers more protection from slow ISPs.
She said: "When Ofcom was established, access to a reliable internet connection and mobile phone was nice to have.
"Now it is essential to the functioning of the economy, to the way people work and live their lives.
"Improving delivery to consumers doesn't just fall at the feet of the regulator – the delivery of first-class communications services is primarily the responsibility of providers."
The new rules will be largely still based around Ofcom’s existing Minimum Guaranteed Access Line Speed (MGALS), which measures the access line speeds achieved by the slowest ten per cent of a broadband supplier's customer base.
It means if a consumer's access line speed falls below the MGALS level they will be allowed to exit the contract, although the ISP must still be allowed time to resolve the problem first.
Ms White added that although levels of performance across the industry have improved, there are still a number of difficulties in changing their service and cancelling contracts.
The processes for Brits looking to switch are set to be revamped by Ofcom, with transitions set to be primarily handled by the company the consumer is moving to. A similar approach is also set to be rolled out to mobile providers.