Ofcom Demands Cheaper Broadband Cut-Off Fees

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Ofcom wants lower fees for broadband customers changing provider, and mobile operators are slapped over the word “unlimited”

Ofcom has persuaded  three of the UK’s largest ISPs to reduce the fees they charge customers who want to change to a different broadband or finish their contract early.

“Over the past 18 months, Ofcom has been working with the three biggest UK landline providers, BT, TalkTalk and Virgin Media, to ensure that the charges they levy when customers end their contracts early (early termination charges), reflect the costs that the providers save by no longer providing the service,” said Ofcom. “Cheaper early termination charges will also apply to landline customers who receive broadband in the same package.”

Lower Charges

“BT, TalkTalk and Virgin Media do not believe their early termination charges were unfair. But, after constructive discussions, they have agreed to significantly reduce those charges for landline (or landline plus broadband) services,” said Ofcom, adding that it was pleased they have taken these positive steps in the interests of consumers.

How much money this will save will depend on the particular ISP and the package the customer subscribes to. However it is known that TalkTalk has already introduced its new charges (from 1 June – Tiscali will be in November). Meanwhile BT and Virgin Media will start using the lower fees in October.

Unlimited Data

Meanwhile the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) watchdog, fresh from rapping Vodafone over the knuckles over its femtocell claims, is seeking to review the “unlimited data” plan claims made by mobile operators and ISPs in their adverts.

The ASA is asking the bodies that govern the UK’s advertising rules, the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) to look into the matter.

“We’ve looked at a number of complaints about individual ads in the telecoms sector regarding access speeds and usage limits, and found that applying a single policy to how telecoms providers advertise can pose significant challenges,” said Lynsay Taffe, communication and policy manager at the ASA was quoted as saying on IT Pro.

“We’ve looked at a number of complaints about individual ads in the telecoms sector regarding access speeds and usage limits and found that applying a single policy to how telecoms providers advertise can pose significant challenges,” Taffe was quoted as saying in a New Media Age article.

“It’s important that we look at this on a broader policy level with service providers, other regulators and consumer groups, rather than relying on individual ASA rulings that focus on a particular service on one platform,” she added. “Therefore, the ASA has invited CAP and BCAP to review broadband speed and ‘unlimited’ use claims.”

The news follows operators such as O2, which recently scrapped its unlimited data plans, much to the ire of customers who are planning a protest later this month.

Orange for example recently revealed its UK pricing tarrifs for the iPhone 4, and while every tariff is supposed to be “unlimited,” in reality users would be limited to 750MB because of Orange’s fair usage policy.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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