It's time to fine networks for prolonged outages

20 Mar 2014

We’re told that broadband has become the fourth utility, after water, electricity and gas. So why do big companies get away with depriving us of it so frequently?

Last night, EE’s mobile network went down for a period of anywhere up to ten hours, according to some of the comments from customers I’ve seen this morning, yet there’s no suggestion of EE being punished for failing to maintain a network that around 40% of the country relies upon.

Indeed, EE’s Twitter account treated the outage as something of a joke.

Some joke if you’re stranded on a motorway and can’t get a signal to call for help, or if you rely on EE’s 4G network for work.

We routinely report on mobile and fixed-line broadband outages, sometimes spanning days, yet the networks are never hit in the pocket for their carelessness. They've got your monthly fee, what do they care?

It’s high time Ofcom got tougher with the network providers. Networks should be forced to automatically refund customers for any loss of service greater than 30 minutes, in the same way train companies are obliged to provide refunds for delays.

That £5 back at the end of the month might not make up for a prolonged outage, but it will certainly make a difference to a company's bottom line when those refunds are multiplied by a customer base spanning millions, if not tens of millions.

Let’s see if they still find those "gremlins" quite as funny, then.

Read more

Blogs