Ofcom: Broadband speed and shaping should be clearer

Broadband speeds should be made much clear to consumers, communications regulator Ofcom has told ISPs.

The average broadband speed a consumer is likely to actually receive, rather than the package they’re being sold, must be made clear at the point of sale, Ofcom said.

Users must also be given easily understandable information about whether ISPs would restrict speeds or services at certain times of day, and on whether any applications were blocked, the regulator also demanded.

Ofcom said that if ISPs did not comply with its requests it would use its legal powers to compel them, based on EU legislation promoting ‘net neutrality’.

So-called ‘traffic management’ has been controversial. Ofcom said it is used by ISPs over fixed and mobile connections to deal with congestion by slowing down or accelerating the flow of traffic over the internet.

“In general it is beneficial, and is used for example to protect safety-critical traffic such as calls to the emergency services. But it can cause concern, if for example it is used by ISPs to target competing services, in a manner which is not visible to consumers,” the regulator argued.

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