/ Technology

What would make you switch to superfast broadband?

Fibre optics

Ofcom is consulting on how to bring more competition to the superfast broadband industry. The question is, will the regulator’s proposed improvements to the industry benefit customers as well?

Despite living in the middle of London, I can’t get superfast fibre optic broadband in my area. I’m stuck with ‘only’ 8Mbps speeds at the moment, which is a darned sight better than the 3Mbps I used to get. Nonetheless, I certainly wouldn’t mind something closer to 100Mbps…

If I was lucky enough for such speeds to be rolled out to my area, I might still be held back by a difficult and lengthy switching process. Thankfully, Ofcom’s on the case – the regulator is consulting on how to make switching to superfast broadband cheaper and easier. Here come its proposals…

Slash the cost of switching to superfast

The first proposed change is to slash the cost of moving a customer from one superfast broadband provider to another.

At the moment, broadband providers who use BT’s fibre optic Openreach network have to pay BT £50 to switch a customer onto their service. This is a charge that Ofcom says is often passed on to customers, and so the regulator plans to cap this charge at a maximum £15. Great news, if this benefit is passed on to customers.

A second proposed change is to require minimum service standards for superfast broadband, and for Openreach to be held accountable for its performance. Considering that we often hear from people complaining about the poor service they receive from broadband engineers, it’s good to hear that Openreach will be required to maintain an acceptable level of performance.

I can even speak from experience – my home broadband connection is down at this very moment. It took an hour of my housemate’s time to convince our provider’s customer service team to send out an engineer for free (they wanted to charge us £50 to fix a fault on their line). Now we have to wait for another engineer to come out and fix it this weekend…

Shorter superfast broadband contracts

Anyway, let’s move back to Ofcom’s consultation. There’s one proposal that interests me most – the regulator has suggested reducing the minimum length of wholesale contracts between BT and the new supplier from a year to just one month. I know that one of the most annoying aspects of signing up to a new provider is being locked into a lengthy contract. It’s one of the reasons why I’m on a pay-as-you-go mobile phone contract.

So, if shorter term contracts are passed on to consumers, it would allow millions of people to switch to faster broadband connections without the fear of being locked into lengthy contracts. That would certainly make me more likely to switch to superfast – how about you?

Comments
Member

I’m quite happy with my broadband speed, which is now very constant at around 7.5 Mbps, irrespective of the time of day. Once or twice a week the connection drops, which is annoying but it is normally working again within a few minutes.

The only time I would appreciate faster broadband is for uploading large files.

Member

What I’d like is a joined up system. Why can’t the same person do all the setting up instead of walking out and leaving you without an email connection. And as for the problems moving from one provider to another Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh. If they can’t get it together to give the customer a simple service there really is no hope. Or even offer a more complicated service. It isn’t all about size. It’s about quality. How many engineers does it take to….??

Member
Em says:
4 July 2013

>>> What would make you switch to superfast broadband? <<<

Having the option would be a good start!

Member

I feel the same… but imagine hypothetically it was available in your area… 🙂

Member
Em says:
5 July 2013

Hypothetically:

I’m not particulary worried about one-time charges.

It seems like it was only a few years ago that I paid £189 for a dial-up modem that ran at a few kbps, let alone the lengthy telephone bills for hours of connection charges, plus a second line rental so I could actually talk to someone on the phone at the same time as using the computer. (How times have changed for the pioneers of the Internet and how quickly it all gets taken for granted and abused by spammers, scammers and worse.)

I’ve been with the same ISP (Eclipse), ever since Which? withdrew from the market(!!!), and have been very happy with them, so again, I’m not unduly worried about a lengthy contract term – unlike my mobile phone contract.

BT Openreach – just get a move on!

Member
Chris,Moray says:
6 July 2013

I get 1.98 mbps in the Highlands and would dearly like a little more. I think we have missed out on BT Openreach as the councils didn’t apply. I’m not sure I need superfast, but super-slow is not fun as I have two websites to maintain and I’m unable to see how well they perform for the average user.

Member

The thing that annoys me most is most providers’ mandatory requirement to have a phone line in order to have broadband. All I want is a 50Mbps internet connection. I don’t need a physical phone line, as I can get a virtual fixed line for free over the internet using SIP/VOIP and a physical SIP phone.

Member

Higher speed broadband for business use is sensible, and if you download large files. But for me it would be an unecessary luxury for leisure use. I pootle along with about 2.5 Mb/s as we live in the stix, but it really is not an issue – I don’t use my computer for films or music and living in a rush is in the past.
I agree that you should be able to separate a landline from broadband, although I think it very sensible to keep a landline – I don’t want the cost of only being able to contact someone on a mobile.