Commenting on Ofcom’s measures to encourage industry investment in faster broadband services, Richard Neudegg, head of regulation at uSwitch.com, says: “Ofcom has today published a number of draft measures designed to encourage further industry investment in faster broadband services – such as full-fibre.
“This focus on future investment alongside strong competition is critical – but this doesn’t mean that this will translate to a real-time boost to speeds and service that consumers can get at home if they don’t take up new services. Consumers need to be bought along on this journey too.
“We especially welcome Ofcom’s decision to bring down the wholesale price for entry-level fibre broadband by around £20 a year. Now the challenge is how the industry uses this to improve more consumer’s broadband experience and reduce the cost of bills.
“A word of warning – the move to lower wholesale entry level pricing, designed to help drive the uptake of superfast services, risks being a wasted effort if the industry doesn’t also urgently make changes that help surface the information that matters most to consumers when considering their broadband package.
“Our own research found that little more than half (57%) of consumers think they can access superfast broadband speeds in their local area – despite the fact that the government recently confirmed that superfast broadband is now available to 95% of premises. Clearly more needs to be done to drive awareness.
“End of contract notifications should be introduced to alert a customer when their current service is coming to an end, as this is a key point for consumers to consider upgrading their service. Combined with the ability to compare broadband services side-by-side, based on the speeds they can actually get at their own home, consumers would be better informed and empowered to select the service that is best for their needs.
“Worryingly, the vast majority of ADSL broadband customers whose contracts have ended could actually switch to a faster and more reliable service with a good chance of making significant savings, too. In fact, out-of-contract broadband users waste an estimated £222 million every year languishing on out-of-contract ADSL – an issue that could be tackled head-on if they were given access to the right information, at the right time.
“To date, broadband providers have previously been guilty of a ‘build it and they will come mentality’ so whilst measures to encourage further investment teamed with a reduction in wholesale price for the entry level product is clearly welcomed, more must be done to help bring consumers along on the journey.”
uSwitch’s Connectivity without Complexity campaign has been looking at these key issues and exploring their impact on consumers. We believe it’s time the industry gives the facts – being open and upfront with the information that matters, removes the needless hoops that consumers are made to jump through and works to ensure the road to faster, more reliable connectivity is a journey for all. To find out more, visit www.uswitch.com/connectivity.
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