UK consumer group Which? has started a campaign calling on broadband providers to go further in guaranteeing broadband speeds for their customers.
The group is pushing providers to supply to customers "the speed and service they pay for". A survey supporting its campaign claims that three in five customers experience issues with their broadband and nearly half of them suffer from slow download speeds, with six in ten putting up with slow internet speeds frequently.
"The internet is an essential part of modern life, yet millions of us are getting frustratingly slow speeds and having to wait days to get reconnected when things go wrong," said Richard Lloyd, Which? executive director. "It's less superfast broadband, more super slow service from companies who are expecting people to pay for speeds they may never get."
Which? also underlines that households are also suffering from poor customer service as a quarter of users reporting a loss of service had to wait two days for it to be resolved and around one in ten had no internet for a week or more. Furthermore, three in ten people never get a resolution from contacting their provider whist a quarter of those who did were unsatisfied with the length of time it took.
However, Ofcom said that measures have already been taken for those customers suffering with broadband speed problems and that it already has a voluntary code of practice on broadband speeds as a way of protecting customers. The code of practice means that the providers who have signed up must supply customers a written estimate of their broadband speed at the start of their contract and allow them to leave the contract without penalty if the speeds they receive is significantly lower than the estimate.
But as the practice of the code is only voluntary, Which? believes that providers need to go further and provide more accurate speeds customers can expect at their home address and supply this in writing rather than providing estimated speed ranges that end users may never get. It also thinks that customers should have the right to exit a contract without penalty if the speed they were promised is not achieved and for providers to fix any loss of connection ASAP with refunds for loss of service. "Broadband providers need to give customers the right information and take responsibility for resolving problems," asserted Lloyd.
The slow internet survey results might be flawed however as customers who took part in the online survey were not asked to report their modem hardware connecting speeds, or in what circumstances slow speeds were experienced. This means that slow speeds may have been reported in circumstances such as several users sharing a wireless internet connection or while large files were being downloaded on multiple devices.