Ofcom will allow customers to ditch slow ISPs at any point in their broadband contract

Ofcom is moving to implement new rules which will help consumers get free of the shackles of their broadband contract if the speed the ISP is supplying is too sluggish.

Currently, after the first three months of a contract, a consumer can find themselves locked into the deal, and unable to escape without paying a penalty fee.

This state of affairs will change to allow consumers to switch providers at any point with no penalty, if the broadband service provided is too slow – this pertains to ADSL services, not cable offerings, incidentally (though hopefully those on cable won’t be experiencing crawling speeds anyway).

Specifically, if the speed a customer achieves on their line falls below the ISP’s minimum guaranteed speed, they will be able to ditch their provider at any time, providing they give the company a reasonable window of opportunity to fix the problem.

The new chief executive of Ofcom, Sharon White, will give a speech announcing the move, and the BBC reports that she will state: “When Ofcom was established, access to a reliable internet connection and mobile phone was a 'nice to have'. Now it is essential to the functioning of the economy, to the way people work and live their lives."

She’ll give the speech at an event hosted by Which, and the executive director of the latter, Richard Lloyd, is very pleased at this new turn of events.

Lloyd said: “Which warmly welcomes the very clear commitment made by the new chief executive of Ofcom to putting the interests of consumers at the centre of everything the regulator does.

“We’ve called for moves to make it easier to switch telecoms providers, so we’re pleased to see Ofcom’s response and look forward to swift action to tackle this and other problems facing consumers and competition in the communications market.

“Unreliable broadband speeds drive consumers crazy, so we also welcome the regulator telling providers to give better information on the speeds customers will realistically achieve, and to let people leave their contracts without penalty if they don’t get what is promised.”