Ofcom plans to introduce a number of measures that will allow consumers to get faster broadband services at an identical or cheaper price.
The communications regulator says 94 per cent of the UK can access superfast broadband services, but adoption rates are less than half.
It believes this low take up could be the result of insufficient awareness of the availability and benefits of fibre. Ofcom estimates that four million households currently receive a slower copper broadband service despite the minimum term of their contract having already expired.
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“We’re concerned that many loyal broadband customers aren’t getting the best deal they could,” said Ofcom CEO Sharon White. “So we’re reviewing broadband pricing practices and ensuring customers get clear, accurate information from their provider about the best deals they offer.”
To encourage upgrades, Ofcom is proposing that broadband providers are required to inform subscribers about the best available deals once a minimum term is close to an end. Providers will also have to do this every year if the customer doesn’t change their deal.
In addition, Ofcom is launching a price review to see why there are significant variations in prices paid and to see if vulnerable customers need extra protection. For example, many people pay more each month after an introductory tariff has expired.
Finally, a new consumer campaign called ‘Boost Your broadband’ will be staged with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and consumer watchdog Which? to encourage people to get advice on speeds and availability.
Ofcom is consulting on the proposals until February 1 and hopes they will come into effect in the second half of 2019.
“Our research has shown that many UK households are paying huge loyalty premiums for staying on the same tariff when they could be paying less for a faster internet service,” added Alex Neill, MD for home products and services at Which? “So we're supporting Ofcom's campaign to help the nation boost its broadband.
“If you are unhappy with your internet service, or you think you could be paying too much, you should look to switch provider or try haggling for a better deal. A few minutes of your time could potentially save you hundreds of pounds a year.”
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Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.