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Broadband providers have expressed tentative support for plans by Ofcom to ensure customers are compensated if they receive a poor service.

Last week, the watchdog proposed new regulations, which would require telecoms firms to automatically pay out to customers if they experience missed deadlines, slow repairs, or if an appointment is not kept.

The regulator believes this could result in as much as £182 million in extra compensation being paid out annually, with households set to get £30 if they wait in for an engineer, only for them to fail to arrive or for the appointment to be cancelled at short notice.

Virgin Media has responded by acknowledging the importance of customers getting fair treatment when services are not delivered.

However, a spokesperson said this is "best achieved through a robust industry-led approach".

"The industry is working together on ambitious reforms that would incentivise communications providers to compete to provide customers with a better service, while also setting minimum standards that providers would have to meet," Virgin Media stated.

TalkTalk, meanwhile, said it is "broadly supportive" of Ofcom's measures and agrees it must be easier for consumers to be reimbursed "when things go wrong".

Nevertheless, the provider stressed that any scheme must be "fair and transparent and based on a set of minimum standards that guarantees every line is capable of providing the broadband customers depend on".

Citizens Advice added that a working broadband connection is now "an essential, not a luxury".

"Automatic compensation has long existed in other markets such as energy and water, so this is welcome recognition from Ofcom that broadband internet is also a vital service," said Chief Executive Gillian Guy.

"Problems with installation or repairs to broadband can be a nightmare for consumers. Not having access to the internet can mean people face a real challenge when going about everyday tasks like applying for jobs, shopping online, and even running their business."

Ms Guy said the introduction of automatic compensation for broadband customers would make it easier for people to get redress if they get a poor service, without the added difficulties of negotiating with their provider.

She added that it would also give broadband providers an incentive to improve their service, as "in future, failures would cost them money".

According to research by Citizens Advice, consumers spend up to 218 million hours a year trying to deal with internet, TV and phone-related problems.

However, figures showed that more than half of those who have experienced issues did not seek redress.

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