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New Code in effect to provide businesses with clarity about broadband speeds

The voluntary Code will apply to all businesses (regardless of size) and standard business broadband services across all technologies.

New protections came into force recently which will enable UK businesses to receive more accurate and reliable information on the broadband speeds they should receive before they sign up to a contract. This new Code applies to all businesses, regardless of size, and to all standard business broadband services across all technologies (including Fibre to the Cabinet and Fibre to the Premises services).

Seven of the UK's specialist broadband providers for businesses - BT Business, Daisy Communications, KCOM, TalkTalk Business, Virgin Media, XLN and Zen - have signed up to the voluntary Code. Together, they provide a service to around two thirds of SMEs who have standard broadband, and they promise to:

  • provide businesses with an accurate estimate of their expected speeds when signing up. This covers both download and upload speeds, which are particularly important to businesses as they can send large amounts of data;
  • manage their business customers' speed-related problems effectively, and offer them the right to exit their contract without penalty if speeds fall below the minimum guaranteed level;
  • give additional relevant speeds information at the point of sale (for example, how the provider manages internet traffic on its network, and how this might affect a customer's speed); and
  • provide further detailed speeds information in writing to the customer after the sale.

Ofcom research has found that some businesses, particularly SMEs, were confused about the actual speed of their broadband service. The voluntary Code is aimed to target the perceived 'speeds gap' – where business customers purchasing standard business broadband services can find that there is a difference between the 'actual' speed of their broadband service compared to the 'headline' maximum speed used in advertising.

The new code will provide a similar level of protection for businesses as residential broadband users, whose interests are already safeguarded under an existing Code, Residential Broadband Speeds 2015.

These new protections were announced in January 2016 and come in force recently (30 September 2016).


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