Ofcom consults on broadband labelling confusion | Infrastructure | News | Rapid TV News
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UK broadband customers could get clearer and more consistent information about fibre services when signing up to a new deal, and potentially get easier access to gigabit services, under proposals announced by UK comms regulator Ofcom.
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Explaining why its action is necessary, Ofcom noted that the way fixed broadband services are delivered is changing with coverage of new full-fibre networks increasing across the UK, and these new networks co-existing with older networks.
In the context of this changing market, Ofcom said it was important that broadband customers have enough useful information, at the right time, to help them choose the correct broadband service for their needs. In particular, it believes that the term fibre is used in an inconsistent way to refer to both new and older part-fibre, part-copper networks.

Ofcom research from November 2022 found that only 46% of customers who reported being on full-fibre broadband were living in areas where it is actually available. It also found that, when choosing a broadband service, more than half (53%) would find it useful to have a short description of the underlying technology used to deliver their services. In addition, more than a quarter (27%) of broadband customers lacked confidence in understanding the language and terminology used by providers.

Under the planned new guidance, broadband providers would only be able to use the terms fibre and full-fibre on their websites and in contracts if their network uses fibre-optic cables all the way from the exchange to the home. Customers would also be given a short, easy-to-understand description of the type of broadband network technology they are signing up to.

Ofcom has existing rules requiring providers to give a description of the service they provide to customers. However, it does not believe there is sufficient clarity and consistency in how the underlying technologies used to deliver broadband services are described.

The new guidance is designed to ensure providers give information on the underlying technology of the broadband connection using one or two consistent terms. Providers should also give a more detailed explanation of these terms in a format that is readily accessible to customers.

Ofcom now inviting views on these proposals which should be submitted by 3 May 2023. It assured that it would consider all responses before making a final decision, which it aims to publish later in 2023.

“It’s vital that customers are provided with the right information to help them choose the best broadband service for them. But some of the industry jargon used to describe the underlying technology supporting their broadband service can be unclear and inconsistent, meaning customers are left confused,” said Selina Chadha, Ofcom’s director of connectivity. “So today we’re proposing to introduce new guidance to ensure that broadband firms give clearer, straightforward information about their services – making it easier for people to take advantage of more reliable, and potentially higher speed technology, as it becomes available.”