Some of the UK's biggest broadband providers will be providing more information about the speeds customers can expect from their connection when they sign up to services, under guidelines that are being introduced this week.
From March 1st, a new set of rules set out by Ofcom will require suppliers who are signed up to the Voluntary Codes of Practice on Broadband Speed to offer consumers more accurate estimates of the performance they are likely to receive, as well as make it easier to leave contracts without penalty if problems cannot be fixed.
When signing up to a service, users will receive a 'personal estimate' of their speeds, which will be based on the 20th to 80th percentiles of speeds received by similar connections.
Broadband suppliers must also provide a Minimum Guaranteed Access Line Speed for the connection, which states the slowest speeds consumers can expect. If their connection falls below this and cannot be improved within a month, customers will have the right to exit their contract without penalty.
Ofcom consumer group director Lindsey Fussell said consumers should be treated fairly and know exactly what they are getting when they sign up to broadband services.
"These protections mean broadband shoppers can buy with confidence. Before they sign up, customers will be told their minimum internet speed. And if companies break that promise, they'll have to sort it out quickly, or let the customer walk away," he said.
Companies that have signed up to the code of practice include the 'big four' of the UK's largest suppliers, BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media, as well as Plusnet, EE, KCOM and XLN Telecom. Together, they account for around 95 per cent of UK broadband customers.
However, notable absentees from the list include Vodafone, as well as most smaller providers.
Richard Neudegg, head of regulation at Uswitch, said the rules will be welcome news for any customers who have been frustrated by relentlessly buffering broadband.
"This new Code also improves the property-specific information about speeds that broadband providers have to give before you sign up," he continued. "This is welcome, but providers should go further in opening up this information so that consumers are able to make side-by-side comparisons between providers, so that they can make the best choice.
"Broadband providers have had a year to prepare for this, so now the onus is very much on them to provide more transparency and consistency in their service."
Long Heading: A new code of practice will require the UK's major broadband providers to give more information about expected download speeds from this week. Summary: A new code of practice will require the UK's major broadband providers to give more information about expected download speeds from this week.