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Detail for new Broadband Speeds Code now published
Thursday 11 June 2015 12:26:30 by Andrew Ferguson

Now that Ofcom has published the full version of the updated Broadband Speeds Code of Practice we can provide a summary of what is expected to take effect on 1st October 2015, though a grace period to allow web site and estimate changes to take place will be in effect until the 31st January 2016.

The changes generally just affect products such as DSL, FTTC, VDSL, satellite or fixed broadband delivered over fixed wireless infrastructure. Cable and presumably FTTH is excluded from a lot of the areas, because the presumption is made that line speeds will match up to headline advertised speeds usually. BT, EE, KC in Hull, Plusnet, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media will all be signatories to version 3.0 as the old versions will no longer be in effect.

  • Require speed estimates to be provided in the form of a range by ISPs providing FTTC/VDSL and fixed broadband delivered via fixed wireless technology (such as WiMAX, satellite and LTE).
  • Specify that the Code applies to the sale of residential products, including upgrades/downgrades from the effective date of this Code onwards.
  • Focus the type of information required to be given at point of sale to the key information which would allow a consumer to make an informed choice about the proposed broadband service before entering into a contract.
  • Specify information which is relevant to a customer’s use of the broadband service to be provided following the sale (including information given about speeds at point of sale and the additional post-sale information specified below).
  • for DSL, FTTC/VDSL and fixed broadband delivered via fixed wireless services, ISPs must state the estimated access line speed range, the minimum guaranteed access line speed and, where provided by the ISP to the customer during the sales process, the single-point estimate.
  • Require ISPs to provide the above information in after sales correspondence (via letter, email and/or in My Account) as soon as possible after the sale has been concluded (and in any event within 7 calendar days), and to set this out clearly in plain English and in an easy to read format.
  • If a customer requests further information on any of these issues at the point of sale, ISPs should provide further explanation at that point.
  • For information on traffic management and fair usage, an ISP should provide guidance in the follow up literature in plain English, including links to website information if an ISP applies such policies.
  • Replace the requirement on ISPs using technologies such as cable to indicate the likely throughput speed during peak times to a requirement on all ISPs, regardless of technology, to provide information in the follow-up literature explaining the factors which may cause peak time congestion.
  • Extend the arrangements set out in the 4th Principle of the code to apply throughout the full duration of a customer’s contract period.
Summary of changes from new voluntary code of practice

The two biggest changes are the fact that the code applies across the full contract term, so if the line connection speed degrades e.g. due to DLM and the ISP does not resolve this as a fault you are free to leave. Of course if you move to a provider than runs the same DLM system then you may see similar issues, but the DLM systems usually offer some ability for configuration by the provider, even if just one of three stability settings, so while some say all Openreach based services are the same there can be subtle differences.

The second change is that the minimum guaranteed access line speed should be stated communication at the point of sale, along with a speed range (though if the speed range is small i.e. less than 2 Mbps between top and bottom figures a single figure can be given). It needs to be emphasised that the access line speed is the connection speed as reported by the modem connected to the line, so slow speeds due to a big sports event are not enough to trigger the ability to exit a contract early, though if a provider is following the spirit of the code we would hope that if their peak time performance is so bad to have people consistently under the minimum guaranteed line access speed they will let them leave.

The minimum guaranteed speed is not a random figure the provider can pick from thin air, but is meant to be the bottom 10th percentile line speed for similar customers with that ISP. The fact that it is similar customers means providers can group people based on line length and the package they have ordered, so someone on a 6km ADSL2+ line will have a different minimum guarantee potentially to those on 1 km ADSL2+ line. The example of BT Infinity comes to mind again, where BT Retail only sells Infinity to those with a better estimate, but places those with lower estimates on a differently named product.

Separately but joined up by virtue of being part of a speech by Sharon White the boss of Ofcom, the new gaining provider led migration process that does away with the Migration Authorisation Code (MAC) system comes into effect on 20th June 2015. Many millions will have already experienced this process when migrating to a full LLU or between full LLU providers (e.g. Sky and TalkTalk) over the last few years, the new process tweaks this old system and makes it relevant to the majority of broadband connections, but does not apply to Virgin Media cable, Openreach FTTP services and the other alternative networks. The new 'one touch' system will carry a day notification period which is designed to avoid slamming as you should get a letter or email from your old provider notifying you of the impending move and a chance to cancel it, but importantly the old provider CANNOT use the letter to do any retention marketing. A number of smaller providers see the new system as favouring the larger providers with their marketing muscle particularly as a glossy advert may tempt people and there will no opportunity to make a customer save with a matching offer.

Comments

Posted by tommy45 about 1 year ago
Estimates are useless BT will lower their estimates further still ISP's already use them against the customer I have had FTTC for over 2 yrs and always had the full sync rates 80/20 but this counts for nothing in Ofcom's own world

Also anyone who has FTTC. Their ISP will have Zero control over DLM, Because BT will not give them any control So ofcoms ideas are floored
Posted by fenlandbroadband about 1 year ago
This all seems a bit nonsense.

If the ISP doesn't reveal what the magical speed is that would count as being the level at which you would be "too slow", and could have numerous ways to calculate it (to suit them) the how can the customer have a clue?

Why not enforce ISPs to say "your estimated speed range is: 60Mbps to 80Mbps. If your speed drops below 50Mbps and support are unable to resolve this issue you will be entitled to leave your contract early". Clear, specific and measurable.
Posted by fenlandbroadband about 1 year ago
Also does the 10% lowest speed change over time? As the mix of an ISPs customers change to higher speed packages for example that speed range may start to vary (or indeed if they attract a lot of lower end users), or is the "if it's below x" set in stone on sign up date?

It doesn't seem right the ISP can set the banding of "similar users" at their own whim, as some may be more/less fair on this than others...
Posted by bartman007 about 1 year ago
Virgin Media gonna be screwed, they use the contract terms to keep you if your in an over subscribed, sorry UTILIZED! area, now you can tell them to get stuffed, so good news for the customer TBH.
Posted by paul_liverpoolfc about 1 year ago
Can anyone leave their contract early without penalty or is it only those with a poor service?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
Only those whose access line speed is below the guaranteed level.

And it does not help Virgin Media users since on the 60 Mbps service the MGALS is 60 Mbps.
Posted by burble about 1 year ago
[quote]We estimate your future broadband speed based on several factors including
the length of your telephone line to the exchange and the speed of similar
lines in your area. Please note that the actual speed you will get might be higher,
or lower, depending on the quality of your individual telephone line and the time
of day you are using the internet.[/quote]

This is what I get when checking at moment, which is of cause complete bull as it means any speed is fast enough in their eyes, so I welcome a quoted minimum.
Posted by Teefenn1 about 1 year ago
For the majority who suffer slow speeds the issue is their inferior throughput speed caused by their ISP having under capacity at the exchange. What do useless OFCOM say to address that? Quote: "requirement on all ISPs, regardless of technology, to provide information in the follow-up literature explaining the factors which may cause peak time congestion." In other words allow the large ISPs to justify their own incompetence and lack of investment with a letter, but nothing about allowing customers in contract the right to migrate.
Posted by tommy45 about 1 year ago
When your bb uses the BT Wholesale network for back haul,this can also be the cause of peak time slow downs,it has been in recent months
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