Ofcom’s Legal Threat to Broadband Providers is Misguided, says Unicom.

Telecoms watchdog Ofcom has warned that Broadband service providers could face legal action if they fail to give consumers accurate information about the speed at which their connection works.

However, Unicom, the Manchester based specialist business-to-business telecoms provider, warns that such action would be a gross over-reaction.

“As a broadband-using country we seem to have become obsessed with the speed of the service we receive, but the fact is that no single operator can truly guarantee the speed of its broadband service,” said Chris Earle, Operations Director of Unicom.

“People complain that the broadband service in the UK is massively slow and inefficient compared to developing nations such as Korea – and they just can’t understand why,” said Chris Earle.

“The speed you receive is based largely on how far you are from the exchange, and the quality of your phone line, neither of which can be influenced by an ISP without physically installing a new connection at huge expense. As a result, most ADSL suppliers will be able to deliver the same speed to you as they all utilise the same copper wires that your phone line uses.

“However, what you download, where you download it from, and how many people are also online at the same time all play a role in how fast your connection is,” explains Earle.

“The quality of your ISP’s network is more important than the headline speed. Telling customers what their speed is after a connection has commenced does not guarantee that speed in any way, which is as misleading as the ‘up to 8Mb’ issue,” said Chris Earle.

“BT’s copper wire network is the fundamental problem. The UK leads technological thinking, but we can’t apply 21st century technology to an early 20th century infrastructure,” he added.

“The UK will only have a competitive network when the copper wire network is replaced, but without the government’s and/or Ofcom’s intervention, that may never happen. Perhaps that is where Ofcom’s attention should be focussed.”