Half of British homes could switch to a faster broadband service, Ofcom said today as it plans new rules to encourage people to get the best deal.
The media regulator’s research showed that 94 per cent of UK homes and offices can now get superfast broadband but less than half have taken it up.
It also found that many people are paying more than they need to with around 4m households with basic broadband who could switch to superfast broadband for the same amount of money or less than they pay now.
To encourage people to move to superfast broadband Ofcom proposed a range of measures including clearer information, a review of broadband prices and a consumer campaign.
Ofcom is proposing that from next year broadband providers will have to tell customers about their best available deal and inform them when their deals are coming to an end.
It is launching a review of broadband prices, examining why some customers pay more than they need and whether vulnerable customers need extra protection to ensure they get a good deal.
Today it has launched a consumer campaign, Boost Your Broadband, backed by consumer champion Gloria Hunniford, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and consumer body Which?
Sharon White, Ofcom chief executive, said: “We’re concerned that many loyal broadband customers aren’t getting the best deal they could.
“So we’re reviewing broadband pricing practices and ensuring customers get clear, accurate information from their provider about the best deals they offer.”
TalkTalk chief executive, Tristia Harrison, said: “We welcome Ofcom action to stop providers penalising loyalty. Two years ago, TalkTalk took a stand against unfair pricing. We reduced prices for existing customers with the launch of new plans and started proactively contacting those approaching the end of their contract, encouraging them to re-sign to cheaper deals."
She added: "If the market won’t follow TalkTalk’s lead voluntarily, it might be time for regulation that enforces fairer pricing.”
Richard Neudegg, head of regulation at uSwitch.com, said: “Historically in telecoms, not enough has been done to put the power back into consumers’ hands. If customers are given the right tools, there is a real chance to improve households’ experience of services that are now critical in their day-to-day lives.”