Broadband providers have been challenged to make switching broadband providers easier for consumers and for them to work with Ofcom to help make this possible.
Ed Richards, the Chief Executive of Ofcom, said in a speech at “Consumers and Citizens in the Communications Sector” conference yesterday (Monday 16th September) that despite the UK having one of the most competitive communications markets in the world that consumers were still not able to take full advantage of it because of the difficulties and process involved with moving between broadband providers.
Initially what is to be done to help make the switching process simpler for broadband providers who use the BT Openreach network is for the broadband provider who is “gaining” the new customer takes control of the switch and processes the transfer for the customer. They will do the work with the “losing” provider to get the customer switched over as quickly and easily as possible. Although this is a start, Mr Richards wants further actions to be done to make the process even simpler and remove any other issues that consumers face such as switching between different bundles and different networks (for example from a BT Openreach network provider to the Virgin Media network).
In his speech, Mr Richards asked of broadband providers:
“…to transform switching; to remove the inconvenience, delays and uncertainty that currently can bedevil consumers when trying to change their provider.”
He also said:
“a system that enables consumers to take advantage of the increasing competition and innovation available“.
Many consumers pay far more than they need to for broadband and communications bundles because they don’t switch, it is recommended after each time that the current deal reaches the end of its contract for consumers to shop around and see if there are any other deals that would work out more beneficial to them.
BT has been told that they have to pull one of their latest fibre broadband adverts by the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) because it uses exaggerated speeds.
In the advert BT claim that their BT Infinity fibre optic broadband was 8 times faster than the national average, however complaints were received about if this claim was accurate.
The ASA looked into the complaints and agreed that BT’s “Up to 8 x faster that the UK average” was misleading because the latest Ofcom results showed the UK’s average broadband speed was 12Mb and not the 6Mb that BT were basing it on.
Ofcom release their latest broadband speed test results every 6 months with the latest 2 being in March 2013 and November 2012. BT used data from the November 2012 results as they claimed that the March 2013 results were not available when the advert was made and that they used the figure for the national average ADSL broadband speed of 6Mb.
The ASA responded that BT did not stipulate that they were making their comparison with ADSL but instead broadband (which includes fibre optic connections rather than just the standard copper connections associated with ADSL) and so they were wrong to base their “8 x faster” speed for their BT Infinity product on the 6Mb speed.
BT Infinity does get speeds up to 76Mb but BT had based their calculations on the average broadband speed being 6Mb which meant that their Infinity service only needed to achieve a minimum average of 48Mb when in reality it still achieved between 60-70Mb, however they did not clarify in the advert what they were comparing against clearly enough.
The ASA concluded that: “The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told BT to base their speed claims on the most up-to-date data and to present qualifications clearly in future.”
Sky Broadbands latest advert has the characters from Disney Pixars Toy Story as the lead roles as Sky push their superfast fibre broadband packages.
A number of the Toy Story characters feature in the 50 second long advert, including Woody, Buzz and Jesse, the advert also ties in with the new 30 minute Toy Story Of Terror TV special that will premiere on Sky Movies Disney in October this year.
The advert shows the struggle of an interent connection with their current provider and shows the “Toy Story Of Terror” being watched online stop with buffering before it was suggested by the Toy Story aliens that Sky fibre broadband services could be the answer.
The Sky Fibre Unlimited package is available at the moment for £10 per month for 6 months plus line rental at £14.50 per month and then the monthly price rises to its standard price of £20 per month. The Sky Fibre Unlimited offers up to 38Mb fibre optic broadband speeds.
View the new Toy Story Sky Fibre Broadband advert below:
Broadband providers in the UK are being asked to keep a database of customers who are illegally downloading films, music and books which could ultimately be used to help prosecute any repeat offenders.
The big broadband providers, including BT, BSkyB, TalkTalk and Virgin Media have been asked to sign a voluntary code by the BPI and British Video Association to help police illegal downloading of music and film.
The problem with the suggested database to be created is that they could be illegal under the Data Protection Act because companies are only allowed to keep information on individual people where it is needed for commercial purposes.
It is suggested that people get sent a letter when they have been caught illegally downloading, the letter could list warnings about what could happen to them if they continue to do so and also provide links to sites where they can legally download music, videos and books. Those who ignore the warnings could then face tough action, such as certain sites being banned, internet connection being throttled to slow it down, turning off a users internet connection for a certain period of time or even prosecution.
A Virgin Media spokeswoman, Emma Hutchinson, said:
“Music and film companies are speaking to broadband providers about how to address illegal file-sharing but what they’re currently proposing is unworkable.”
Someone from TalkTalk also said:
“We are involved in discussions about measures to address illegal file-sharing and ultimately would like to reach a voluntary agreement. However our customers’ rights always come first and we would never agree to anything that could compromise them.”
To get an idea of the scale of pirated material in the UK, between November 2012 and January 2013 there were 280 million music tracks, 52 million TV shows, 29 million films, 18 million ebooks and 7 million pieces of computer software illegally downloaded according to figures from the UK regulator Ofcom.
Ultimately broadband providers are likely to be slightly reluctant to want to have any of their customers getting into trouble as they want to keep customers on board with them and will side with their customers when it comes to personal details.