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Crystal Clear Broadband campaign goes to Whitehall

Paul Allen, editor of Computeractive magazine, addressed the Westminster eForum on “delivering next generation broadband”.

He was invited to present to an audience of MPs, analysts and key stakeholders in the broadband industry as a result of the success of Computeractive’s Crystal Clear Broadband campaign that has been running in the magazine for the past three months.

One of the key themes at the eForum was how to protect consumers’ interests as the broadband industry and its regulator decide how best to build the next generation networks capable of carrying much more content at greater speed.

Computeractive’s Crystal Clear Broadband campaign recommends that Ofcom should do more to ensure ISPs are honest about the rates customers can receive and ensure that ISPs do not miss-sell broadband.

Allen advised the eForum that: "Advertising broadband by maximum theoretical 'speed' isn't helpful for the average consumer, providers need to compete on the other benefits they can offer. Our research suggests that, at present, consumers are rarely receiving advertised speeds.”

The Crystal Clear Broadband campaign’s success in attracting public support prompted the chairman of Ofcom’s consumer panel, Colette Bowe, to write to the UK’s six top ISPs in October, she called on them to offer greater transparency to UK broadband users.

In response to the regulator’s statement to the eForum that it would not yet intervene in the broadband market, Paul Allen stated: “I am disappointed that Ofcom has decided not to address an issue that a great number of consumers clearly feel is questionable at best.”

In the three months since the Crystal Clear Broadband campaign began over 8,700 people have signed the e-Petition on the 10 Downing Street website, calling on ISPs to advertise a “typical” broadband speed rather than an ambiguous “up to” rate.

The reach of the media coverage has brought the issue to the attention to a potential 25 million consumers, campaign has featured on Radio 1, The Evening Standard and BBC News Interactive.

Allen’s involvement in today’s Westminster eForum follows on the support Crystal Clear Broadband has already gained within government, notably from MPs Derek Wyatt and Sir George Young.

Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.