/ Home & Energy, Technology

How will the Digital Economy Bill help you?


Well, firstly, it can ‘bring telecoms kicking and screaming into the 21st century’, as Pete Moorey, head of campaigns at Which?, reminded MPs when giving evidence in Parliament earlier this week.

Vast in its scope, the Digital Economy Bill brings together a number of different issues across our mobiles, broadband and nuisance calls campaigns over the past few years. We told the committee of MPs who are scrutinising the bill that there are four main areas to the bill that we think consumers need to see become law:


It’s incredible we don’t have Gaining Provider Led [GPL] switching in the telecoms sector yet.

GPL means that when you want to change mobile or broadband provider, instead of having to call the operator you’re leaving, you only need to talk to the one you want to switch to – it will take care of the rest. This would bring it in line with the banking and energy sectors, and you’d avoid the awkward ‘leaving’ conversation or being talked out of switching by your existing supplier.

We think this will mean companies will have to work harder to retain your business, and, as a result, there will be better deals for everyone as competition increases. This is proposed in the bill, and we think it’s vital that it stays there.

Automatic compensation

Whenever you experience a loss or degradation of service, your provider should offer adequate compensation to make up for the inconvenience caused.

Again, this is paid in sectors such as energy and water, so it’s baffling that telecoms companies aren’t subject to the same conditions. If you pay for a service, you should receive that service. Wherever it can’t be delivered, companies should be making that up to you in the easiest way possible without the need for long and complex complaints mechanisms. But companies will have to raise their games and treat customers better, because if they don’t they’re going to have shell out.

Ofcom’s powers

Currently, telecoms providers can challenge any decision that Ofcom, the regulator for the sector, makes in court and challenge ‘the merits’ of a decision.

In other regulated sectors, businesses can only challenge the process through which a decision was made – and decisions can only be overturned once they prove the ‘process’ was flawed. This bill is proposing to change the way Ofcom’s decisions can be challenged by businesses and bring it into line with other regulators. This is hugely beneficial for consumers, as decisions taken can be brought into force and the regulator will have real teeth to act in the interests of consumers. It would also improve competition and better protect customers.

Nuisance calls

Basically, more powers to the Information Commissioner’s Office [ICO], making its Direct Marketing Guidance statutory.

This means that ICO rules have to be followed, and companies that make nuisance calls can be prosecuted more easily – currently, only four out of 22 fines levied by ICO as a result of companies making nuisance calls have actually been paid.

From our Calling Time on Nuisance Calls campaign, we know that they’re still a massive issue for people across the UK, and over 80% have experienced one in the past month, so this is another step on the road to cracking down on the companies that harass us with unwanted calls.

But wait, there’s more

There’s always room for improvement and we told the committee so too.

We think the bill should introduce Director Led Accountability [DLA] for nuisance calls. This would make the heads of companies making nuisance calls directly responsible, and help close a loophole that many of these companies use.

Often, when companies are fined for making nuisance calls, they simply close their businesses and declare bankruptcy, then reopen under a different name and continue making calls. DLA would mean that heads of businesses are personally responsible for the marketing tactics of their companies, and any fines they receive. This then stops them being able to ‘phoenix’ in this way and closes an important loophole in the law.

So what do you think of the Digital Economy Bill? Is there anything else you’d like to see in there? What do you think is the most important measure?


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Michael P says:
15 October 2016

What I should like to see is the abolition of anonymous calls / number withheld calls from public bodies like the doctors, NHS, police – and from my vet. This is in order to enable me to carry on with what I’m doing if I wish (I have caller display) and safely ignore this type of call. As a backstop these types of caller can always leave a message on my answer phone if it’s important.

Julian says:
18 October 2016

I believe BT Openreach is responsible for Virgin & other companies not being able to provide ftth to more of the country. With FTTH you can have broadband without paying line rentals VOIP which can give you more versatility other than just making and receiving calls.

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George says:
21 October 2016

In my humble opinion, if national government took over more of these ‘essential’ services, the cost would plummet (no greedy bosses and share holders to pay) and we’d all get the kind of service we deserve!

Okay, so stick a few Coppers on the income tax bill to pay for it!

Ever since Queen Margaret Thatcher, we’ve had all these ‘small’ private companies; trying to cut each other’s throats for customers, whilst its been US – the customer- who suffers!

Nationalise the bl**dy lot – what have we got to lose?………………….

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George – on what basis do you consider that there would be no “greedy bosses” if essential services were nationalised? Before they were privatised, the state-run industries were overrun by fat cats and big pigs with their snouts in the trough. There were more of them too as a percentage of management grades because they had monstrous hierarchies with boards and committees stuffed with fellow travellers on the self-indulgent gravy train. Once these organisations were sold off the stream-lining started and the squeals could be heard all around but, miraculously, service quality generally improved and consumer prices for many products and services actually fell in real terms.

George says:
7 November 2016

I’m not saying there would be NO greedy bosses- just less of them and less of a need to satisfy the greedy investors in the Stock Market.

George says:
7 November 2016

Just lucky I guess 😉 …..

I can see what you are saying, George, but in the glory days of the nationalised industries any surpluses were just wasted on unnecessary or over-priced schemes and activities. Most nationalised industries had to be bailed out by the taxpayer – more than once in some cases. Utility company profits are in the 2-3% bracket – not a profligate amount. Investors only buy the shares because they are reliable and provide a portfolio with ballast, or because they are hoping for a take-over bid so they can sell them at a profit.

natalie flemington says:
16 November 2016

In actual fact nationalised industries such as Electricity and Gas used to make a good profit and sank it back into better service for the customer. Everything was customer service focused and nothing was too much trouble. Loyalty and care. I worked for Electricity Board for many years and had connections in the Gas. The show rooms, shops were brilliant. Customers and their history were recognised and remembered in detail. They weren’t sold off because they weren’t profitable or because they weren’t in the best interests of us all as customers. They were sold off cheaply (family silver) for short term government gain and as our Permenant LOSS

I was a fan of the gas and electricity boards when there was little alternative, Natalie, but they did lose their way towards the end. On a trading basis some of the gas and electricity boards were making surpluses but they were not covering the capital investment requirements of the industries and the price of their main raw material – coal – was artificially manipulated by the government. The showrooms were outstanding and some of them had lecture theatres and demonstration rooms, but they had a virtual monopoly of appliance sales which stifled innovation and development [their chief competitor was the Co-op which was hardly in the forefront of retail progress in those days].

I agree with the proposal that directors who deliberately instigate or support illegal practices by their companies such as nuisance calls should be personally penalised. However, bear in mind that if it is a monetary penalty it is likely to come out of their company, not their personal pockets. Our prisons are overcrowded and underfunded. Perhaps we should establish a prison-type institution for the wealthier miscreants, with retraining facilities, that the inmates also have to pay for.

I would ask whether if a company chooses to liquidate, whether the directors are still liable in law – were they part of the company and therefore no longer exist? There seem a number of prosecutions in other areas – the NHS and the police for example – where wrongdoers have escaped prosecution by either leaving their post or retiring. Does someone know?

Have sighned new contract under the promise there will be no increases while under new contract will talktalk keep to there word only time will tell?

I wouldn’t hold your breath I just left them they will say tried to contact you regarding this and you not reply so matter must be resolved ha this is via text of which you cannot reply ! Took over 7 months with them and countless phone calls that supposed to be recorded to be told you have not rang them .

Hi , we have been quoted £10000 to get fibre to premises – a year ago by BT. Now they say we can get it for £150 per month for a 3 year contract. Up to 330 mb and 30 mb but cant say what actual speed will be or how long it will take. They can’t tell us what will happen after 3 years- instead offered us a 5 year contract. We are a small family business in the country on our farm, running a music and arts festival- who can afford £150 per month?
At present our internet is so slow that we can seldom run two computers at once. We are 3 miles from Lisburn a small city. What gives? Sometimes it is so slow as to not be able to load gmail. Very frustrated.


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When Bought the house was told – fiber no problem we will transfer your existing account, now 3rd year at the new property and no fiber, Openreach has no plans to do this in near future, this is middle of the city where 150m way next street has fiber, everyone around this estate has fiber, but apparently this site is not on the development plans as no interest in the fiber, as fair I know everyone on the estate is in same situation. Offered option is they would connect us if we pay for fiber being connect ted to the site, but after that normal charges for services would apply even we would own the network and fiber as we have paid for this. This is first country I have been living with such ridiculous situation. My comment to BT Openreach is Wow You are really 21st century company driving future for generations.

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I live in a rural area and get speeds of about 1. BT say this is because The distance between the exchange and our community is too far and the overhead wires are not in a good condition. If this situation can be remedied is debatable but the promise to install fibre optics appears to be a ruse. The BT line is my only option as I can not afford more sophisticated systems on my pension

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I respect companies that are honest about problems. Duncan is right that you should ask for the old wiring to be replaced and if you are hearing noise on the phone, that provides evidence that there is a problem.

Ask BT renew lines ha if you dare get them out they say it’s ur fault and charge you , they have had it there own way for years do nothing about bad service do not invest on there equipment update or up grade it just take profit , anyone I have spoken to have nothing but problems with BT and they don’t get put right and charge you for the fault had it there own way too long ! New customer had 2 week delay on phone change over and order cancelled twice by call centre person non speaking English you could not understand them or they you ?? Super fibre yep BB speeds don’t match to advert ? How can it be super fibre if run off old phone wires ? Drop outs faulty router had to return , over charged on bill i’m on anytime calls told would see to final bill from provider I changed from this has not happened it was BT fault connection was over 2 weeks after set date ? I thought all Talk were bad lol . BT ought be ashamed of there handling of accounts draw you in with promises then leave you high and dry . Shame on you !

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John Wells says:
15 November 2016

I have found all internet providers deceitful in their modus operandi, slowing speed down once contract has been established etc. A MiFi box is going to be the solution.

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Martin says:
17 November 2016

The problem with all the this is the provider blames BT and openreach and Openreach Blame the providers, its a joke.

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I agree with the lady who says the gas and electricity boards lost their way towards the end. This was due to government intervention to make a break even business model owned by you profitable enough to sell to the few! I suppose now is the time to buy shares in private health care and cleaning services ! Or has that happened already!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And no I’m not a communist!

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Elizabeth Pratt says:
8 December 2016

I agree with that Duncan. I was working in hospital when contract cleaning was brought into our area. As you say infections rose dramatically and I do believe this had something to do with it. They were talking about going back to Modern Matrons, does not seem to be much happened with that either. Hospitals were spotless, nursing care was carried out to the highest of standards, the patient and family came first. Even the doctors had to tow the line what with Matron and Sister. I have nursed and had to ask Doctors and some nurses to wash their hands. Great pity what we have lost. Some patients do not even get a daily wash now. So, so sad. Patients are out of hospital in a flash – no waiting for the complications that could occur in certain circumstances, bed turnover and profit is first.