US politicians want to use crisis to increase state influence over operators

Some Democrat Senators want to make it illegal for communications service providers to disconnect their customers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley is promoting the bill, which he hopes will be part of the next mountain of public cash to be chucked at fighting the crisis, proposed by the Democrats. They seem keen to chuck another three trillion bucks at the problem and, as with all the previous coronavirus bills in the US, opportunistic politicians on both sides of the aisle will be keen to add funding for their own pet causes to the bottom of the bill.

“Now, as millions of Americans hunker down, work from home, and engage in remote learning, would be the absolute worst time for Americans to lose a critical utility like internet service,” said Merkley. “Oregonians and people across America deserve to know that as we weather the social and economic consequences of this storm together, they will still have be able to go to work, go to school, buy groceries, and stay connected to loved ones—all of which many depend on the internet to do. Congress should include this protection in the next coronavirus response bill.”

There is little sign of a plague of disconnections, however, so it’s not clear why Merkley is being kept awake at night over this issue. US citizens unable to work are being paid instead by the government, as they are in many other countries, so there shouldn’t be a time when they’re unable to pay their telecoms bills. Furthermore the FCC already got US ISPs to sign a pledge not to disconnect people.

Instead this has the feeling of a thin-ends-of-the wedge, giving the state greater powers to order communications companies around. Furthermore, if it became known that it was illegal to disconnect people, what incentive would anyone have to pay their bills. The thinking behind this bill is probably indicated by the fact that a co-sponsor is old-school socialist Bernie Sanders, who seems to think all private property is somehow immoral.

Once the dust settles on all this viral vileness we may see that a lot of the power hastily handed over to the state in the heat of the moment remains in place. It’s one thing to temporarily turn on the tap of public money, quite another for the state to commandeer companies. US politicians seem to be especially shameless about exploiting the urgency of this crisis to push through legislation that would be laughed out of the room under normal circumstances, and US telcos must be hoping this particular bill is squashed as quickly as possible.

UK ISPs show a bit of blitz spirit

All the UK consumer ISPs have been asked by the government to agree to some measures to help vulnerable customers during the COVID-19 crisis.

BT, Openreach, Virgin Media, Sky, TalkTalk, O2, Vodafone, Three, Hyperoptic, Gigaclear, and KCOM have all signed up so the measures, which you can see below. We asked CityFibre why they weren’t on the list and they said it was because they understood the initiative was for consumer-facing companies only, but they they’re fully supportive of it. That impression seems to be supported by the measures, which begs the question of why Openreach is involved.

  • All providers have committed to working with customers who find it difficult to pay their bill as a result of Covid-19 to ensure that they are treated fairly and appropriately supported.
  • All providers will remove all data allowance caps on all current fixed broadband services.
  • All providers have agreed to offer some new, generous mobile and landline packages to ensure people are connected and the most vulnerable continue to be supported. For example, some of these packages include data boosts at low prices and free calls from their landline or mobile.
  • All providers will ensure that vulnerable customers or those self-isolating receive alternative methods of communication wherever possible if priority repairs to fixed broadband and landlines cannot be carried out.

It’s great that everyone’s showing the old blitz spirit during this difficult time, but those commitments seems a tad vague. ‘Appropriately supported’? ‘Generous packages’? Let’s see how that plays out. Having said that, removing caps is a positive move, as is the commitment to prioritise the vulnerable for repairs, so it’s definitely better than nothing.

Everyone involved got a canned quote so you might as well see the lot of them.

Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said:

“It’s fantastic to see mobile and broadband providers pulling together to do their bit for the national effort by helping customers, particularly the most vulnerable, who may be struggling with bills at this difficult time.

“It is essential that people stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives. This package helps people to stay connected whilst they stay home.”

Melanie Dawes, CEO of Ofcom said: 

“We recognise providers are dealing with unprecedented challenges at the moment. So we welcome them stepping up to protect vulnerable customers, at a time when keeping in touch with our friends and families has never been more important. We’ll continue to work with Government and industry to help make sure people stay connected.”

Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s Consumer division said:

“The service and connectivity that BT provides are more critical today than they ever have been in our lifetime. During this national and global crisis, our priorities are the safety of our colleagues and ensuring that our customers, particularly those that are vulnerable, stay connected. Within the last week or so we focused on implementing a range of initiatives and additional services for our most vulnerable customers and we are pleased to support these sector-wide commitments.

“None of this happens without the dedication of our brilliant teams. I’m particularly grateful to our committed contact centre colleagues who are fielding unprecedented call volumes and helping our customers stay connected.”

Clive Selley, CEO of Openreach said: 

“With connections to more than 24 million customer premises across the UK, we know our network is critical.We’ll do everything we can to keep people connected while prioritising our support for critical public services, vulnerable customers and those without a working line.

“Thankfully a large amount of the work we do – including fixing faults, adding capacity and building faster, more reliable full fibre networks – can be completed outside, so you’ll still see Openreach engineers working to maintain service across the UK.”

Lutz Schüler, CEO of Virgin Media said:

“In these unprecedented times we know how important connectivity is to people’s lives. Alongside the many other steps we’re already taking, we’re committed to helping our most vulnerable customers and ensuring they are supported as much as possible as we work tirelessly to keep the country connected.”

Stephen van Rooyen, EVP & CEO, U.K. & Europe, Sky, said: 

“There has never been a more important time for people to stay connected. We will play our part to help everyone stay in contact with their loved ones and to ensure vulnerable people can access the help and information they need.”

Tristia Harrison, CEO of TalkTalk, said:

“At this time of uncertainty across the country, nobody should have to worry about connection to friends and loved ones. That’s why TalkTalk is dedicated to treating customers – whether consumers or businesses – with fairness and compassion, so they don’t fear losing service if current circumstances mean they’re struggling financially. We have also established a priority contact line for vulnerable customers, so they can reach us when they need.

“At a time where other bills may be going up, TalkTalk will not be adding inflation to standard bills from 1st April. And while people may need to use more landline calls, they will never pay over our low and fixed price package so that there are no nasty surprises.”

“It’s more important than ever that we all work together to keep Britain connected, and TalkTalk is proud to play our part as a provider of this critical national service.”

Mark Evans, CEO of Telefonica UK (O2), said:

“I’m delighted to see the industry and government  working together to help the UK at this critical time. At O2 we have long-established policies in place to support our customers, and right now, digital connectivity is more important than ever as we connect our customers to vital services and their loved ones.”

Nick Jeffery, CEO of Vodafone UK said:

“Whether you are at home, working from home or a key worker, Vodafone is committed to keeping the UK connected. We know that our technology is making a real difference in helping people through this health crisis.  We are committed to supporting those customers vulnerable to COVID-19, enabling them to keep in contact with friends and family and live their lives as best as possible. We are here for them.”

Robert Finnegan, CEO of Three said: 

“We take our responsibility to keep our customers connected during this time very seriously and are providing the government with our full support where possible. I am committed to ensuring that all of our customers are treated fairly and that they are supported by Three.”

Dana Tobak CBE, CEO of Hyperoptic said:

“Staying connected in these unprecedented times is of crucial importance to society. Our engineers are showing great commitment to provide an essential service to society and value the support and understanding they are receiving from members of the public. We are pleased to commit to these measures to help support the most vulnerable members of society, who must of course take priority in these circumstances.”

Gareth Williams, CEO of Gigaclear said:

“Gigaclear are proud to be playing a vital role in building and maintaining the UK’s digital infrastructure. We are working with our industry partners to support both our residential and business customers who are relying on our service now more than ever. In addition to the measures set out here, we are increasing the speeds of our customers currently on 30mbps products, as well as prioritising vulnerable customers who make themselves known to us.”

Dale Raneberg, CEO of KCOM said:

“As a provider of services people are relying on now more than ever, we are committed to keeping our customers connected throughout Covid-19 and determined in particular to support and protect vulnerable consumers and those who may become vulnerable as a result of it.

“We acted quickly to lift data caps and to provide reassurance that we will assist customers facing financial pressure over the period ahead to ensure they continue to have access to essential communications services.

“We are pleased to join with industry colleagues in putting in place the additional measures announced today and to back the Government’s wider efforts to address this issue we now all face.”

Europe gives operators minor throttling concession

The powers that be in the European Union have said its operators can do a little bit of traffic management if they absolutely have to.

The reason for this minor concession, of course, is that the entire continent is being encouraged, and increasingly compelled, to stay at home the whole time as we try to slow the spread of the COVIS-19 pandemic. Most of them will probably be spending a lot of time streaming video, online gaming and so on, so exceptional levels of both fixed and mobile broadband are expected.

On the demand side, EU bigwigs have been hassling Netflix not to let its customers stream in HD, and now they’re addressing the supply side. A joint statement from the European Commission and BEREC (Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications) addressed coping with the increased demand for network connectivity due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It flags a regulation that prevents operators from prioritising traffic, but notes that it allows a bit of light throttling if there’s a really good reason. “Pursuant to the regulation, operators are authorised to apply exceptional traffic management measures, inter alia, to prevent impending network congestion and to mitigate the effects of exceptional or temporary network congestion, always under the condition that equivalent categories of traffic are treated equally,” says the statement.

The long and short of it seems to be that European authorities have given a tentative green light to throttling when needed. However this comes with the implicit threat that if it is suspected that the operator in question didn’t have a good enough reason, or failed to do so in an even-handed manner, then there will be trouble.

What is driving Internet Content Providers to demand dark fibre?

Telecoms.com periodically invites expert third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this piece, Adam Roberts, Digital Content Marketer for NGON & DCI World 2020, discusses the Internet Content Providers (ICPs) demanding dark fibre from Communication Service Providers (CSPs) and the ripple effect being felt across the data centre interconnect market. 

ICPs, telcos, and enterprises are all building data centres as well as seeking extra capacity through third parties as they extend and expand their scale and service offerings. Partnerships with the CSPs are integral to connecting these ever-growing networks of data centres. ICP connectivity networks largely consist of lit services provided by the CSP, existing dark-fibre networks, and commissioned networks both wholly owned and within partnerships.

According to a recent Omdia analysis, in the very-high bandwidth data centre interconnect portion of the market, ICPs are wanting more access to dark fibre where dark fibre is available. And where there isn’t dark fibre, ICPs want the telcos to build it for them. This is to handle the increased traffic where these heavy-duty bandwidths are vital. But what is driving this traffic?

Video streaming, cloud gaming and quality of experience driving increasing network demand

On the consumer side, many of these drivers are clearly apparent. Video streaming demand (a market set to be worth $184.3 billion by 2027) has ramped up with premium media service providers, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+ (releasing March 24th in the UK), all battling for dominance.

This huge increase in end-user traffic requires infrastructure to be bolstered to deliver competitive customer experiences and support any additional value-add services, such as ultra-high definition streaming. And there are no signs of this type of traffic slowing down either, with video set to account for 82% of all IP traffic by 2022, according to a recent report from Cisco.

Similarly, cloud gaming is another innovation seen in recent years that is driving up high bandwidth demands. Google Stadia has given us tantalizing glimpses of the future of video gaming and its utter reliance on a stable, quality internet connection.

Offering an overall low-latent, high-speed, quality internet connection is potentially going to be the driving force behind new service approaches, both on the consumer and enterprise side. Quality of experience and quality of services is what will make the key differential points between service providers going forward.

The next move for ICPs

ICPs want dark fibre as a key part of their roadmap to meet these demands, as well as respond to other underlying business and technology forces, like enterprise transformation moving towards the cloud.

Apart from a select few wholesale oriented CSPs, not many can offer dark fibre at the required scale. In many international markets, a wholesale dark fibre market does not exist as incumbent CSPs have fibre but might not be structured to support dark fibre implementation. As a result, ICPs are putting pressure on CSPs outside of their lead markets of North America and Europe in search of other markets to play ball.

CSPs will need to stay vigilant and consider how this could negatively impact the content relationships they are already trying to leverage with ICPs to extend their own service offerings.

This opinion feature is based on a recent report published by Omdia, titled ‘The ICPs: Bullying the CSPs for dark fibre’. In a copy of their analysis – available to download here – Omdia delve into each of these ICP pressures in further detail and provide analysis on the new strategic position CSPs should take to address these challenges. Omdia combines Informa Tech’s market leading analyst houses: Ovum, Heavy Reading, Tractica and IHS Markit’s TMT research to connect the dots across the entire tech ecosystem to provide the latest optical transport network and data centre interconnect analysis.

 

To discover the latest trends for next-generation optical networking, claim your ticket to NGON & DCI World 2020 (2-4 June, Hyatt Regency Barcelona Tower, Barcelona, Spain). Book your pass now with a 20% discount using the code ‘TELECOMS20’. Gain insights from senior representatives from Huawei, ZTE, Ciena, Nokia and more as they discuss the impact of new technology and innovation on OTN performance. 

Ofcom reckons we’re clueless about broadband pricing

UK telecoms regulator Ofcom thinks consumers are ill-informed about the best broadband deals and wants ISPs to help rectify that.

As with many other utilities, UK punters often don’t shop around when it comes to broadband deals and often don’t even get the best service their current ISP offers at the price they’re paying.  Ofcom thinks that’s bang out of order and wants ISPs to be a lot more proactive about communicating this stud to their customers.

It’s kind of depressing that a regulator needs to get involved in this sort of thing at all. How difficult would it be for an ISP to notify their customers of the best deals on offer once their contract comes to an end? Not only is it underhand to conceal such things, but it’s presumably in the ISP’s interest to keep their customers happy so they don’t moan, churn or harm their precious net promoter score.

Yet here we are. Ofcom is proposing new rules that will oblige all UK communications service providers to flag up the best deals to their customers when discounted deals come to an end and also annually regardless of what kind of deal they’re on. “We’re concerned that many loyal broadband customers aren’t getting the best deal they could,” said Ofcom Chief Exec Sharon White. “So we’re reviewing broadband pricing practices and ensuring customers get clear, accurate information from their provider about the best deals they offer.”

The hook in Ofcom’s accompanying press release is a factoid that only half of the country is on ‘superfast’ broadband, while nearly everyone has access to it. What’s that all about? Ofcom puts the blame squarely at the feet of ISPs, as we’ve already explored, and it certainly seems like poor form for them not to even give their customers the best service at a given price point. Surely that should happen automatically.

Having said that it shouldn’t be beyond us to shop around every now and then. “While it’s true that half the battle in finding the most suitable and cost-effective broadband deal for your household is the availability of information, there must also be the will to find a better deal on the part of the customer,” said Dan Howdle of Cable.co.uk. “Thanks to the ‘stickiness’ of bundled TV packages, physical equipment such as dishes, set-top boxes and cable installations, along with no small amount of apathy when it comes to shopping around, too many stick with what they have and as such pay more than they should.”

Just in case CSPs were thinking of brushing this stuff off, Ofcom has thrown in an extra angle around ‘vulnerable’ people to ensure that wouldn’t be a good look. Additionally it’s launching a consumer campaign called Boost Your Broadband, fronted by consumer champion celeb Gloria Hunniford and designed to make it easier for punters to shop around.

TalkTalk launches subsidiary devoted to fibre roll out

UK ISP TalkTalk is so devoted to rolling out fibre that it has launched a new company – FibreNation – devoted entirely to that.

Apart from the statement of intent this move is noteworthy in so much as it signifies a new, serious competitor to Openreach and Virgin Media in the areas it will operate. It seems to be initially focusing on Yorkshire, but intends to eventually connect three million homes and businesses to ‘full fibre’.

The company will operate as an Openreach-style wholesaler and has apparently already signed up Sky as a customer, which must be delighted to have an alternative to Openreach for its wholesale fixed line needs. The other initial customer, of course, will be TalkTalk itself.

“We’re delighted to launch FibreNation and set out our plan to deliver world class broadband to three million homes and businesses,” said Tristia Harrison, Chief Executive of TalkTalk. “For too long, Britain has trailed the rest of the world when it comes to broadband speed and reliability. We’re determined to change that and invest in the faster, more reliable broadband Britain deserves. This is just the beginning of our plans to be at the heart of Britain’s full fibre future.”

“Investment in ultrafast fibre broadband is crucial for the economic and social vibrancy of our county,” said North Yorkshire County Councillor, Carl Les. “We will be coordinating with TalkTalk through our streetworks team to minimise disruption from the works and ensure this is delivered smoothly so residents can enjoy the benefits of faster, more reliable broadband.”

The leadership of this nascent venture seems to be a bit of a work in progress. It will be chaired by former BT and Telecom New Zealand exec Paul Reynolds but TalkTalk COO Mark Bligh seems to have decided at the last minute not to be its CEO, with that role being taken by Neil McArthur. TalkTalk rather cryptically spoke of Bligh pursuing other opportunities, but he’s still listed as COO on its website and on LinkedIn.

In other news TalkTalk announced a solid set of quarterly numbers, implying some of the turmoil of recent years is behind it, and announced it will be moving its HQ from London to Salford, Manchester. It gave no especially specific reason for the move, but it’s presumably cheaper than London and will be much nearer to all this northern fibre it’s investing in.

TalkTalk shares hit by £75 million loss and weak outlook

UK telecoms group TalkTalk saw its shares drop significantly upon announcing a negative set of half-yearly earnings.

The data-points most troubling to investors will have been a loss before tax of £75 million, which compares especially poorly with a £30 million profit in the same period last year. To add to the gloom EBITDA was down to £95 million from £144 million a year ago and the company is guiding that full-year EBITDA will be at the low end of guidance.

TalkTalk shares fell by as much as 17% on the announcement, but at time of writing has recovered somewhat to be down more like 10%. One reason for this could be that the company’s claim that these numbers were exceptional due to the strategic measures being put in place, including a change to its MVNO, and a general drive to reposition itself as the leading UK value ISP. Maybe, on reflection, investors were OK with TalkTalk taking a short term hit to give its cunning plan a kick-start.

“When we simplified and reset the business in May we said our priorities were growth, cash and EBITDA, in that order,” said Tristia Harrison, Chief Executive of TalkTalk. “The first half performance shows we are delivering on that plan. We have now delivered a third consecutive quarter of growth in our broadband base, with both Retail and Wholesale bases growing; returned to on-net revenue growth; and delivered lower churn than a year ago.

“Our clear value proposition is resonating strongly against an uncertain economic environment and underpins our plan to simplify and focus all our investment in delivering affordable, reliable fixed connectivity to both homes and businesses”.

“We expect to step up our planned investment in growth in the second half, as we take advantage of the strong demand we are seeing for our fixed low price plans; fibre take up and affordable propositions in both our residential and B2B markets. Our revised strategy of focusing the business on fewer, clearer priorities is re-establishing TalkTalk as the value provider of choice in the UK fixed connectivity market.”

You can see the key numbers below. There seem to have been some exceptional hits involving the MVNO and for general restructuring, but TalkTalk is also spending more on its network and on subscriber acquisition in spite of declining revenues. Even allowing for exceptional items TalkTalk seems to be struggling to balance the books right now and investors are unlikely to cheer up until it does.

talktalk full year outlook

talktalk q3 p&l

talktalkcosts

Ofcom imposes automatic compensation payments on UK ISPs

Most UK internet service providers have signed up to a scheme that will see them automatically compensate their customers for their failures.

Ofcom reckons UK internet subscribers will be due £142 in payouts at current levels of ball-dropping, which will be nine times more than they currently get. While that’s obviously good news for consumers, the amounts involved still seem pretty poor compensation for not being able to get online.

Ofcom ISP compensation

The first lot of £8 only kicks in after you’ve been starved of Netflix, or whatever else you might use your internet connection to watch, for two full days, which seems a bit unsatisfactory. The missed appointment fine is a bit more substantial but the switch-over delay payment is even less.

Apparently ISPs only cough-up 15% of the time they blow it right now, so this is definitely a step in the right direction. BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and Zen Internet have all said they’ll introduce this automatic compensation, with other BT-owned ISPs expected to follow suit. The cash should be automatically deducted from ISP bills, with Ofcom threatening to review it after a year and have a word with any transgressors.

“Waiting too long for your landline or broadband to be fixed is frustrating enough, without having to fight for compensation,” said Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s Consumer Group Director. “So providers will have to pay money back automatically, whenever repairs or installations don’t happen on time, or an engineer doesn’t turn up. People will get the money they deserve, while providers will want to work harder to improve their service.”

The most significant impact of this should be to make ISPs prioritise customer service more than they currently seem to. If some senior exec thinks their annual bonus will be hit due to engineers dragging their feet you can bet sorting that out will move right to the top of their priority list, just below golf meetings and power lunches.

The Elephant in the room, of course, is Openreach, which manages much of the fixed line network. It looks like Ofcom hasn’t been very clear about how these automatic payments may be passed on to Openreach if it’s found to have been at fault.

“ITSPA welcomes this important step towards increased protection and redress for consumers who are left without a service due to no fault of their own,” said Eli Katz, Chair of the Internet Telephony Services Providers’ Association. “This approach goes towards assuring continuity of our members’ services. However, ITSPA is disappointed that Ofcom has not been clear on how the regime will be applied to underlying infrastructure providers, such as Openreach, as it is on their networks that faults usually occur. It is a shame that clear rules regarding their payment obligations have not been set out.”

Ofcom wants to force broadband providers to stop lying

The UK telecoms regulator is finally getting around to doing something about dodgy broadband speed claims.

Few other industries can get away with selling their products on the basis of optimistic approximations, as opposed to hard facts, but ISPs have long been an exception. UK consumers typically buy their broadband on the promise that they can expect download speeds of ‘up to’ a certain maximum. In practise, however, the speeds they experience seldom, if ever, come close to that number.

This has long been a source of indignation, not just for consumers but for organisations like the Advertising Standards Authority. The ASA has frequently called out ISPs for taking the piss but the punishment of getting them to amend an advertising campaign that has long since completed is almost entirely useless.

The practise is endemic, as a quick visit to BT’s broadband site reveals. The three packages immediately offered all promote themselves through ‘up to’ speed claims.

BT broadband screen

Hopefully Ofcom will show itself to have more teeth than the ASA and has weighed into the debate by proposing a range of enhancements to its code of practice, which ISPs that have signed up to it are obliged to follow. Here are the extra powers Ofcom wants UK broadband consumers to have:

  • Improve speed information at the point of sale and in contracts, by reflecting the slower speeds people can experience at ‘peak’ times; and by ensuring providers always give a minimum guaranteed speed before sale.
  • Strengthen the right to exit if speeds fall below a guaranteed minimum level. Providers would have a limited time to improve speeds before they must let customers walk away penalty-free. For the first time, this right to exit would also apply to contracts that include phone and pay-TV services bought with broadband.
  • Increase the number of customers who benefit from the codes, by expanding their scope to apply to all broadband technologies.

So instead of (or more likely as well as) a theoretical maximum, ISPs have to offer a guaranteed minimum speed in their sales and marketing collateral. Hopefully there will be proper punishments for consistently failing to achieve these too, but at least they will provide consumers with an easy pretext to switch without fear of recrimination.

“We want broadband shoppers to know what they’re buying, and what speeds to expect,” said Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s Consumer Group Director. “So we plan to close the gap between what’s advertised and what’s delivered, giving customers a fuller picture before they commit to a contract. We’re also making it easier to walk away from a contract, without penalty, when companies fail to provide the speeds they promise.”

Here’s what Ofcom would like ISP collateral to look like from now on.

Ofcom ISP screen

Plenty of other people have had stuff to say on this. “By emphasising the slowest speed a customer is likely to get at peak times, speed numbers are likely to more closely match user experience,” said Dan Howdle of cable.co.uk. “Whether or not this benefits the majority of consumers who are, by and large, unaware of how these numbers apply to day-to-day usage is questionable, however.

“New rules on broadband speed advertising would have to be coupled with guidelines to ensure customers are informed as to how the speeds apply to the broadband usage of their household, otherwise it’s just a case of swapping one meaningless number for another.”

“Giving more information on what speeds consumers can expect can be a useful move but burying this more detailed information in each provider’s sales journey will only go so far,” said Richard Neudegg of uSwitch.com. “What we need to see – and what we have been calling for – is for this information to be opened up so that consumers can compare different provider speeds side by side at the point of comparison.”

“The minimum guaranteed speed is currently shown by a number of providers at the time of a sale, but with some it is currently hard to find,” said Andrew Ferguson of thinkbroadband.com. “Making guaranteed speeds more prominent across all providers is an important step, but it needs highlighting that the guaranteed speed referred to is usually the connection speed to the router the provider supplies.

“The difference between the connection speed and a speed test on a perfect computer set-up will usually only be 4 to 10% lower (varies due to technology) but for those connecting at the fastest speeds this becomes visible. For example, a Gigabit connection will have a maximum speed test of 940 to 945 Mbps.”

As ever with Ofcom initiatives, this has to go through a process of public consultation before it becomes a thing and you can get involved here if you want. This feels like a good example of where regulation is a good thing. UK broadband consumers are currently being given dodgy information at the point of purchase and making everyone abide by stronger rules of transparency has no competitive or bureaucratic downside to ISPs. Let’s hope this goes through.