Interesting news regarding broadband problems and long ISP contracts from Ofcom today:

Ofcom is today outlining three measures to help consumers. First, Ofcom has secured a strengthened Code of Practice on broadband speeds with the UK’s largest providers: BT, EE, KC in Hull, Plusnet, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media. The new version of the Code improves consumers’ right to leave their broadband contract when speeds fall below acceptable levels. New customers signing up will be able to walk away from providers during the whole term of the contract, not just the first three months, if they suffer problems that cannot be resolved.

Second, Ofcom will next month outline plans to make it easier for mobile phone customers to change provider.

Third, Ofcom is improving the process for millions of customers changing broadband and landline provider.

From 20 June, it will be much simpler and smoother to change between landline and broadband providers who use the Openreach network – such as BT, EE, Sky and TalkTalk. A new ‘one touch’ process will place the responsibility for the switch in the hands of the company the customer is moving to. Ms White will say: “This will make a real difference for consumers and will encourage more people to take full advantage of competition in the sector. “Once this is in place we will next month turn our attention to improving consumer switching between mobile networks.” Ms White will conclude: “We have set the bar high for ourselves but also for industry. If we deliver then everyone benefits: consumers and citizens of the country and the businesses who deliver the services we regulate.” Ms White will be speaking at a conference hosted by consumer organisation Which? on 11 June. A copy of the speech is published on the ofcom website.

Whether this will work in practice is anyone’s guess – the big ISP’s have a habit of obfuscation when it comes to reporting problems. How do you prove your speeds are poor when the provider claims they aren’t? Here is the Consumer Guide to the Code of Practice from Ofcom.

If you want to check your speed and you’re on a copper circuit (provided by BT), then the only official tester is BT’s own at http://diagnostics.bt.com/login/?workflow=Speed  – you will need to be using a wired connection to eliminate any wireless router of course. If you only own an iPad, I have no clue how you’re supposed to get past the dreaded BT “help” people. If you do, I’d love to know.