/ Technology

What’s your message for Ofcom’s review?

Man angry on mobile

Ofcom is to review the UK’s digital communications markets. With three quarters of people on the wrong mobile contract and nearly half unhappy with their broadband speed, it’s time for change.

Ofcom has today announced an overarching review of the UK’s digital communications markets. That’s the broadband, mobile and landline markets to you and me, all of which are essential services with low levels of trust and satisfaction. For example, you may remember me sharing the fact that even the banks are trusted more than mobile providers. It’s clearly the right time for a review.

It’s been over 10 years since Ofcom’s last review – and a lot has changed in that time. The iPhone hadn’t been announced, we weren’t using Twitter and tablets had more to do with medication than computing.

The telecoms market is clearly changing at a rapid pace, so it’s right for Ofcom to review whether it’s working for consumers. This is especially the case now that there are high-profile mergers on the cards, which could lead to less competition.

Problems in the mobile and broadband markets

We’ve long been campaigning to improve the telecoms market, from mid-contract price hikes, poor broadband services and unfair charges to unlock your mobile phone.

But these issues are just the tip of the iceberg. Our research this year found that three quarters of people are on the wrong mobile contract for their usage, resulting in a collective over-payment of £5.42bn every single year.

And then we come to broadband speed advertising – eight in 10 people don’t know that only 10% of customers need to achieve the speeds that their broadband provider advertises. Since speed is the second most important factor when people are picking a broadband provider, how could they ever make an accurate decision when the advertising rules are stacked against them.

A better deal for consumers

So it’s definitely the right time for Ofcom to dig into the depths of these essential markets. The regulator now needs to set out how it will deliver a better deal for you and me.

Now’s your chance to send a message to Ofcom. If you could name up to three things that wind you up about your phone or broadband service, what would they be?

Gentle Savage says:
12 March 2015

Why prices in the UK not comparable to other countries?
Why customer support is poorest in western Europe?
Why text cost is high?
Texts are the cheapest method of communication for mobile users but companies charges are expensive.

Charlie Wilkes says:
12 March 2015

There needs to be a consistency with all networks with regards to data charges and shock bills. We were with Talkmobile and there were no warnings for nearing data usage limits. This seems very discriminatory given that they ‘piggy-back’ off vodaphone who DO give warnings when customers are nearing their limit. This is totally unfair in my view. I have spoken to many friends and family and we are all in agreement that mobile network companies seem to be a law unto themselves and treat their customers with total contempt. We complained to the Ombudsman services about Talkmobile and although we got awarded a sum for their incompetence and appalling customer services they don’t seem to care in the slightest. More should be done by Ofcom to ensure the customer is backed up as they just act like large, powerful companies who know they can just rip individuals off – just because they can!!

The telecoms providers should make their various tariffs clearer and tell the truth about the real speeds on Internet connections, i.e. TalkTalk claim speeds, I’ve never ever received on my broadband connection.

Linda Holter says:
12 March 2015

So fed up with Talkmobile have cancelled direct debit today – attempted to speak to someone at one of their offices and had to repeat my name etc at least 3 times was then put through to Customer Services because he could’nt answer my question – next person spoke to had to repeat all over again and then phone went dead!! they had my mobile number – so why did’nt they call me back. Also think 2 year contracts are way too long the whole system needs a shake up.

Ian Wilcox says:
12 March 2015

I was in Stockholm over Xmas 2014,BB speed was 39MB!!
How come Sweden can do this?
BT is at fault,despite the sell-off,it’s still a huge monopoly with low investment and low man power.
Dragging it’s feet and sticking two fingers up.

The UK can beat this. I have 1000Mbps (1Gbps or a gigabit) in London. I pay £40 per month and I don’t need a landline. Although my situation might be the exception in the UK, it should become the norm.

Fine if that’s what you want, but I far prefer to pay about £35 a month for my landline plus relatively slow but reliable broadband.

My point is not about pricing, but about the UK’s capability of delivering decent speed broadband.

My priority would be to help those with slow and/or unreliable broadband. There’s plenty of people with download speeds of less than 10Mbps.

The whole country needs have FTTP (fibre-to-the-premises) so that everyone can enjoy gigabit speeds. Many years ago, copper telecoms tables were wired into nearly every UK home. Now we need to do the same with fibre. Copper is no longer fit for purpose. Yes, the cost will be huge, but so is the benefit. The original cost of copper cables was also huge, but that didn’t stop BT and its predecessors from doing it.

Are you saying that spending money on high speed broadband is more important than improving the NHS and our schools, providing safe cycling on our roads, and affordable housing?

No, I made no comparison with public sector expenditure. This should be funded by the private sector, if necessary using tax breaks or other incentives so that the private sector doesn’t drag its heels.

Fair enough but the private sector is not always keen to spend where it cannot make a quick profit. That means that those in rural areas could be left with slow broadband (what one of my friends calls ‘fast dialup’) while those in some built-up areas benefit from much higher speeds. Look at how poorly some rural areas are served with bus services and bank branches.

George Osborne has just announced a plan is to make 100Mbps broadband available to the whole country.

Look into the practice of selling packages, if I want one thing, why I’m I forced to have this that and the other as well. And If I can get just one thing why is it sooo much more expensive. Almost costs as much as a package of several items.

rapier says:
12 March 2015

Signal coverage in Scotland is APPALLING> Charges for NON European countries is VERY expensive.

Peter says:
12 March 2015

Companies will charge for leaving, even when the contract has expired. It’s a completely arbitrary charge – one they make up, one they enforce, with the menace of bailiffs.

Their customer service is truly awful. The agents to not tell the truth. They hang up. And that’s after navigating the most confusing phone menu. And to speak to someone – to explain a problem they have caused – or make a complaint – they charge!

Fixed price tariffs are not fixed.
Pay as you go top-ups are not topped-up, but money is taken.
Text messages are charged – even though the deal is unlimited texts.
And pay as you go expires after 30 days – why? (other than the charge us more than they should?)

steve K says:
12 March 2015

Living in a rural area with no alternative provider, BT just take the P. The best speed I can get is 1Mb/s on a good day & yet I still pay the same as people getting 10Mb/s in a town.

Jeff D says:
12 March 2015

The Rural Areas of the UK are getting a bad deal all round regarding Broadband and Mobile phone services and we end up paying many times more for a crap service than those in the towns and cities and probably susidise the special offers that are infuriatingly dangled in front of our noses but we cannot take advantage of because we are excluded for various reasons. For example, in my area the best mobile tariff is from a provider that had no signal coverage. Our local exchange only has BT equiment so all the other broadband provider have to pay them a surcharge which means we get excluded from any of their special offers.

Stuart pringle says:
12 March 2015

Always have been overpriced since day one.Big business is just to much and takes to much.how about the hidden health affects?Rubbish signals.Unused data minutes and TXTS not carried.Unlocking charges.Two year contracts that by the end of the two years the phones have leaped in technology massively and you are still sat with a heap of junk.Upgrade costs that cost a bomb if you want to change.contracts that go up in price NEVER down and YOU have to put up with whatever the price hike.Big business stinks.capitalism stinks.

Lewis Fowler says:
12 March 2015

We need answers here? The question shouldn’t be where is superfast broadband available it should be when is superfast broadband available? Availability of superfast broadband and 4G is one of the main issues here. Openreach do know about avaialbility, as I contacted them last week about my nan’s street saying under review on their where and when chekcer, but the response they told me was that the cabinet is not in the roll out plans. So they do know. Why can’t they just tell you in the first place.

We also need guaranteed speeds not up to. I think that if up to speed advertisment is to stay then the up to speed should be not for 10% but for 25%, and anyone who receives less than 25% of their packages up to speed should get a permanent discount.

Furthermore what about line rental. A waste of money i think. Why can’t we have the option to have standalone broadband packages, whereby we pay a bit more on top of the package and don’t pay line rental. For example a broadband package at £10+£16 line rental a month, could be instead a standalone package at about £20 a month. So much easier and cheaper, especially for those who don’t even use their landline.

Andrew Boyle says:
12 March 2015

I work at home for a quite e-enabled firm. I live in Hackney, East London and have cabled broadband via Virgin.

I have persistent packet loss problems which make it very hard to do voice communications over the internet – this is something that we use a lot, and it really inhibits my work.

I have been in touch with Virgin many times, and – although they have previously admitted there is a problem – their basic approach is to deny that any problem exists.

But there is a problem – as media stories (Evening Standard, London Tonight), and the campaigns of Meg Hillier MP attest. It is really galling that I cannot get access to a basic infrastructure service and my provider just denies that there is a problem when there is something well known there. I think other providers are just as bad, so switching wouldn’t help me.

I am in a situation in which a powerful corporation is creaming off money for a necessary basic service and I have no option but to pay high prices for poor services. The market does not function in this context!

C Timms says:
12 March 2015

The contracts for broadband and mobile phones often appear to be unfair. We have to sign up for 12-18 months but if during that time the service provider fails to provide what is promised – in terms of speed, coverage or even a service at all – we seem to be unable to switch provider without paying huge penalties. If the service provider does not provide the service for which we are paying at the speed and covering the area for which we are paying then we should be able to cancel the contract immediately and claim compensation. Sorting things out with BT has cost me a small fortune and the problem was not of my making.

I had a similar problem some years ago and the cure was to get out of BT completely. I’ve been with talktalk since and only complaint is with their call centres being on the sub-continent. My hearing is not the best and I find it difficult to follow their speech. However, last time I spoke to the call centre, a supervisor was listening in and broke the connection to speak to me directly. Problem solved in 2 minutes.

Having to pay for a high priced landline phone to get normal bb is criminal . There is a price cartel led by you-know-who who dictates the price and the rules. Virgin too is a problem. .. it says it will charge the same price of tv/phone/bb package price even if we try to cancel the phone and bb. Also us elderly PENSIONERS DO NOT WANT SUPERFAST bb… only the basic speed, yet we have to pay the same high price. Unfortunately elderly folk, especially the disabled, need or want a land line phone as well as a mobile phone for emergencies… or just in case…! So have to pay for payg mobile and a land line phone to get the bb. HELP!

Jules says:
12 March 2015

I don’t see why broadband customers who get vastly varying speeds should pay the same. My broadband speed is painfully slow much of the time yet I pay the same as someone else with the same provider who gets super fast broadband such as our friends in Herts. Also, where I live, my mobile phone signal is very patchy with Vodafone. I can literally watch the signal bars go from zero to four and back down again while sitting in the one chair. Some of the house doesn’t get a signal yet my wife has no problem with her Orange/EE mobile. Also, where landlines are concerned we’re over a barrel as OpenReach has a monopoly and has a charge of £129.99 to fix a problem no matter how small if it’s internal. And we only have the engineer’s word for that which makes us easy pickings on top of the charges for the contract.

R Anderson says:
12 March 2015

I feel that the worst thing about broadband is this “upto” speed, the providers are fully aware that the actual speeds are nowhere near the “upto” speed at all. Which to me is fraudulent advertising.

Gloria R Thienel says:
12 March 2015

Mobile Companies Appalling Customer Service. They do nothing for customers they already have, chasing new ones with better deals. They forget where their money comes from that keeps them I business

Broadband needs to be faster in all areas of UK and lower prices. No one gets the speeds they advertise which is misrepresentation

John says:
12 March 2015

BT (or may be open reach) managed to dig through the main cable of our existing phone line connection while trying to install fibre optic, so many villagers in a group called the Saints were left without a phone line for about 2 weeks. There was no communication advising customers about this. No idea of how long we would be off line. My Mother in Law is in her 80’s so I tried to get her mobile phone working. The Sim card was missing – long story which I will not bore you with now. I bought a new sim card and put credit on the phone through a well known unpopular supermarket brand and walked up her garden to where it is just possible to get a mobile signal (few of the houses in this area is it possible to get any signal indoors), no luck. Phone locked by previous company Vodaphone. Bare in mind that we also had no phone and therefore no internet access. On the Monday from work I manage to make contact with both BT and Vodaphone. Vodaphone said they would investigate the phone issue. BT confirmed they were aware of the problem. Vodaphone finally got back to me at work after I had finished work the following Friday, so I could not access until the following Monday to say that Mother in law needed to pay £20 to have the phone unlocked. The phone was probably worth less than that. BT got there act together after about 10 days so land line was repaired. We received a paltry £20 which failed to cover the calls we had had to make from mobile. I had to work at the weekends at a friends house on a different exchange to catch up on work that I had been unable to do at night. The BT argument was that I had not reported the problem until the Monday despite the fault starting on the previous Friday. They have 3 days to fix the fault so Tuesday Wednesday Thursday so basically 6 days of nothing and we get no compensation for that. The fault reporting website is a joke that sends you round in circles. Absolute rubbish. BT have been using my old virgin account as the main account, since I could no longer access Virgin.net anymore I have had no bills sent to my BT account. I would have thought it obvious that if one moves from one supplier to another that the previous provider would no longer allow the old account to be accessed but BT do not seem to get that. When I foolishly renewed with BT I was assured that this would be sorted and that my virgin.net link would be removed. I have spent several sessions on line trying to sort it out. Still have virgin as the main e-mail address so all password changes etc are impossible to access.

James Culbert says:
13 March 2015

Too many complicated rules.
Ever changing policies.