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Ofcom ignores crucial clause in broadband clampdown

By Barry Collins

Posted on 20 Dec 2007 at 12:17

Ofcom has discarded its Consumer Panel's recommendation to allow people to cancel their broadband contract if speeds are significantly slower than advertised.

Earlier this week, Ofcom's Consumer Panel asked the regulator to establish a mandatory code of conduct, which would allow customers to move to a different package, or free them for their contract, if actual line speeds "are significantly lower than the package they bought".

In a letter sent to the Consumer Panel's chairman, Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards promises to implement a number of the Panel's suggestions, but stops short of allowing customers to move if they suffer from paltry speeds.

Instead, Ofcom will merely demand that ISPs offer "consumers the choice to move, penalty free, onto a different speed package based on the [actual line speed] information provided".

An Ofcom spokesperson says the measures proposed in its letter to the Consumer Panel are "not definitely in, and not definitely out" and that the regulator is considering "a range of measures" that will be finalised in the new year.

In the letter, the Ofcom chief executive says he welcomes the Panel's input. "As mentioned previously in my letter dated 10 December, we very much welcome the contribution made by the Consumer Panel in the current debate about the advertising of broadband speeds.

"We agree that it is a vital issue for consumers and Ofcom has already been looking at these issues. Our initial proposals, on which we will be engaging with consumer groups and industry early in the New Year, are very much in line with the measures set out in your letter."

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