Did you know a new set of broadband regulations from Ofcom came into force on the 1st March 2019? Regulations that provide minimum guarantees of bandwidth from your internet service provider? They are part of a wider program to create a fairer deal for consumers and businesses and will change the way we buy broadband from now on.

The regulations were put together back in early 2018 but ISPs needed time to adjust their systems and change marketing and training to adapt. They came into force in March and are now the accepted code of practice. Almost every ISP in the UK signed up to the regulations and should now comply with the new way of working.

What do these changes mean for business?

If you have leased lines or other enterprise connection, not a lot changes as you will be covered by SLA. If you use superfast broadband, consumer broadband or cable, or allow working from home, there are a couple of differences.

No more mixed messages

Let’s be generous and say that until now, most ISPs were ‘idealistic’ about the maximum speeds you could get with any broadband package. The infamous ‘up to’ prefix meant that you would get somewhere in the region of the speed you were paying for but rarely would you actually achieve it.

So you were essentially paying for a service and not always receiving it. Even if the ISP knew that you couldn’t achieve an advertised speed, the ‘up to’ caveat gave them a way out.

From now on, you will see minimum achievable speeds advertised instead of ‘up to’. This is a contracted minimum speed. If the ISP cannot deliver that speed, they have one month in order to rectify it or you can walk away from your contract with no penalty.

Bone of contention

ISPs will also have to be much clearer about contention. More specifically around the speeds you will receive during the peak times of 8.00pm to 10.00pm for homes and 12.00pm to 2.00pm for businesses. This is the time when most users are online and speeds can slow down significantly.

The contention was a hidden speed bump that until now, no ISP had to warn you about. Arguably, contention bad enough to seriously impact business is rare but some rural areas and some busy urban areas are affected by it.
With more businesses shifting to the cloud, internet speed becomes more and more important. As the level of trust in ISPs headline speed claims was at an all-time low, these changes should increase transparency and trust over time. Businesses and home workers will also know exactly what to expect from their connection rather than what they could expect if everything works properly.

These changes are a power for good and should allow consumers and small businesses to make more informed decisions about their broadband. If you need help with your business broadband, contact Excalibur…

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