New figures in from Ofcom suggest as many as two in five households in the East of England could switch to faster broadband.
Since becoming MP for Brentwood and Ongar in 2017, broadband speeds across the constituency have been one of the regular issues raised with me. However, the official data from Ofcom shows nine in ten homes and offices (89%) in the East of England can now get superfast broadband, but more than two in five of those have not taken it up.
Ofcom also reckons many people are paying more than they need to. Around four million UK households with old-style, basic broadband have passed their initial deal and could switch to superfast for the same – or less – money than they currently pay.
Ofcom has launched Boost Your Broadband, a major information campaign to help people find out how they could get more, for less from their broadband. The campaign is backed by consumer champion Gloria Hunniford OBE, Which? and the Government Departments for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
A new website – BoostYourBroadband.com – allows people to easily check what type of broadband they can get in their area, and offers impartial advice on how to find the best deal.
You could Boost Your Broadband today
As Ofcom points out, the broadband market is highly competitive, with superfast broadband packages now available from around £20 per month. But for some, the choice of deals on offer can be daunting. So the new website aims to demystify the broadband market.
By following three simple steps at BoostYourBroadband.com, broadband users can check their options, decide what they need and get clear, independent advice on how to get the best broadband deal for them. This is how it works:
1) Enter your postcode to see what type of broadband – standard, superfast or ultrafast – is available at your address. This checker draws on Ofcom’s authoritative, up-to-date information.
2) Decide what you need – by seeing what kind of broadband user you are.
3) Speak to your provider – armed with information on what to ask for, and how to get the best deal.
Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s Consumer Group Director, said: “We’ve found two in five East of England households could boost their broadband and upgrade to a faster connection today – in many cases paying the same, or less than, their current deal. So if you’ve been on the same broadband deal for years, you could save money and get better broadband in three easy steps.”
Ofcom is taking a range of steps to help people get the best deal for their needs. It is proposing that broadband companies – as well as mobile and pay-TV providers – will have to tell customers about their best available deal every year, and when introductory offers are coming to an end.
It is also reviewing the fairness of broadband companies’ pricing practices – examining why some loyal customers pay more than others, and whether vulnerable customers need extra protections to ensure they get a good deal.
These measures are alongside others coming into force this year, including better information on broadband speeds when people take out a contract, from 1 March; automatic compensation when things go wrong, from 1 April; and a simple text-message process to allow mobile customers easily to switch provider, from 1 July.
Ofcom is also making sure no-one gets left behind, by implementing the Government’s universal broadband service, which will give people the legal right to request a decent broadband connection.