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Improved services for superfast broadband

Improved services for superfast broadband

Category: Broadband

Updated: 21/05/2014
First Published: 21/05/2014

MONEYFACTS ARCHIVE
This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

Have you wasted days waiting for your Broadband to be repaired? Then you get annoyed and consider changing supplier only to be put off by extortionate fees to get out of your contract?

Well, these sort of problems could soon be coming to an end as new rules are put forward by Ofcom to ensure customers are being treated fairly. Ofcom are proposing new minimum performance standards for Openreach, the company that installs and maintains connections to BT's network on behalf of competing providers.

In the new plans, hoped to be in place by the summer, customers can expect improved line repairs and installations, with most faults – around 80% – having to be repaired within two working days from notification.

The 80% target for Openreach is also going to be applied to new connection work, with customers requiring a line installation expected to receive an appointment within 12 working days.

Openreach's progress is going to be monitored carefully and it could face fines if it doesn't meet the new targets, while in a separate study Ofcom are also reviewing the standards of redress, which could include compensation to consumers when things go wrong.

This is just one element of Ofcom's Fixed Access Market Review which is looking at the whole telecoms market, including the wholesale fees that often get passed onto customers.

Different broadband providers sell superfast services over BT's network but if a superfast customer wishes to change provider, the company they are switching to must pay a £50 fee – with it often being the customer who indirectly picks this up. Ofgem wants this fee cut to £11, allowing providers to offer lower start up-fees.

Contract lengths are also coming under scrutiny, so that when a superfast customer switches to a different supplier, the minimum length of the wholesale contract between BT and the new supplier would reduce from one year to one month – giving telecoms providers the chance to offer shorter retail contracts.

Ofcom is not currently targeting fibre services but will be looking into standard services, putting in place 'charge controls' – this is what Openreach can charge other telecoms providers for some of its standard broadband services – which could mean savings for retail customers.

Dominic Baliszewski, telecoms expert at broadbandchoices.co.uk, commented:

"Ofcom's proposed new rules over repairs and installations will be met with relief by every household who has ever been left for days, or even weeks, without a working broadband connection.

"Openreach controls a significant proportion of the UK's broadband infrastructure but has no direct customer relationship, which meant some people were effectively stuck in digital limbo if they encountered a service problem their provider was unable to fix.

"Setting specific targets for installations in particular should lead to more households feeling confident enough to switch their package and get a better deal, as we regularly hear from people who want to switch but are afraid to do so and risk being left without a connection for any length of time, let alone two days."

The price of superfast broadband has begun to come down considerably over the last couple of years too, so now is the time to shop around for a deal. Take a look at some of the deals available using our comparison tool and you could soon be enjoying superfast speeds with out the super high costs.

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Compare broadband deals in your area - it's time to shop round for a new deal

Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.

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