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Ofcom launches broadband probe

06 июня 2008

Ofcom is launching an investigation into the speed of UK broadband services amid concerns that connections are not as fast as advertised.

The communications watchdog is concerned that customers are being misled about the speed of service they receive when they sign up with internet service providers. Ofcom said it was acting after seeing consumer satisfaction in ISPs fall in the past year.

Many internet companies advertise broadband speeds of up to 8 megabits per second (mbps) or even 24 mbps, the top speed in the UK. But in practice internet speeds depend on the distance from the telephone exchange and the number of other customers using the network at the same time.

Ofcom estimates that only about half of those on an 8 mbps package would be close enough to an exchange to receive the top speed.

It has published a voluntary code of practice, which will require internet service companies to give customers greater clarity on how fast their internet access will be in practice. Some 32 ISPs, covering 90 per cent of the UK’s broadband customers, have agreed to follow this.

In addition, a six-month probe will examine how speeds vary according to factors such as region, provider and time of day.

The findings are likely to add to the pressure that Ofcom and ministers are putting on telecommunications companies to increase their investments in next-generation broadband access.

Ofcom has said the UK could be left behind if it does not invest substantially in upgrading the copper-wire telecoms network. For example, the network would struggle if many people wanted to watch high-definition television over the internet.

Broadband providers, such as BT and BSkyB, said they welcomed the code but urged Ofcom to extend it to mobile broadband providers which are not covered by it.

Источник: Financial Times

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