UK Broadband – Digital Disgrace

When the government announced its £400m Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund to boost investment in improving broadband services and followed it up with an announcement that it had “clawed back” £645m from BT under its state-subsidised superfast broadband contracts tendered in 2012, it must have thought, ‘At last, a good news story’.

However, in the words of George Gershwin, ‘It ain’t necessarily so’.

The government also published it’s commitment to provide consumers with a legal right to request minimum speeds of 10mbps (mega bytes per second) by 2020.  Given that 50% of users in Portugal (according to the Portuguese regulator) currently enjoy 100 mbps with 70% achieving 30mbps the UK target does seem to be on the low side.

Poor quality service and users not being told when their contracts have expired (when they could switch to a cheaper provider without paying a penalty) have recently been highlighted by surveys carried out by price comparison websites.  Now, new research commissioned by Citizens Advice shows that broadband users are being affected by poor service during the time many people find most stressful in their lives – when they are moving home.

Citizens Advice commissioned YouGov to carry out research based on people moving house. The survey looked at interviews with respondents who had moved to a new address within the last two years, sourced from the YouGov research panel. The online survey was carried out from 6th-15th March 2017.  According to this research, one in three people who move house experience delays in getting their broadband working.

People are often left without a functioning internet connection for weeks after the date promised by the provider.  15% of respondents found that when they were connected to the Internet, the connection was slow or unreliable.  Many who decided to switch providers because they had no broadband for weeks after moving were also told that they would have to pay exit fees of hundreds of pounds to switch to a different service.

Moving house can be a difficult and stressful experience and delays in getting the internet can make this worse, if providers fail to keep to promised dates or engineering visits don’t materialise. Broadband is now such an essential service that people moving house will often rely on it for crucial tasks, like changing their address for household bills or ordering essentials.

The industry regulator, Ofcom has proposed a scheme that would automatically compensate customers who face delays or missed appointments, regardless of their provider.  The industry has proposed a watered down version which could cost consumers tens of millions of pounds in reduced compensation payments.

Citizens Advice is also calling on broadband providers not to charge exit fees to customers who experience unreasonable delays after they move – like having to be without an Internet connection, or who move to an area where there is a lesser service available.

If you are a dissatisfied broadband customer or you want advice on switching your provider you can call the Citizens Advice consumer help line on 03454 04 05 06.

You can also get information and advice on how to deal with Debt, Benefits, Work, Consumer Issues, Relationships, Housing, Law and Rights, Education, Discrimination, Tax and Healthcare by:

–                calling 0344 848 7969 to speak to an assessor or make an appointment to talk to an adviser face-to face. (calls to this service cost the same as calling 01 and 02 numbers included as part of a mobile allowance or a landline call package

–                visiting to access our comprehensive range of information and advice,

–                or follow us on Twitter @ Waverley CAB

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