OFCOM speaks to companies over concerns customers are being misled about the service they receive

Broadband speeds in the dock

Six of the largest broadband providers are being asked to explain to telecoms regulator OFCOM, why customers rarely receive speeds advertised.

The companies, who are being represented by their bosses at the consumer panel, are being quizzed on the issue after Computeractive magazine revealed that 62 per cent of the 3,000 readers who took part in a speed test were receiving less than half of the advertised speed.

The panel wants to force the companies to give customers more information so that they are not misled about speeds. It also has several proposals on how the broadband companies could achieve that.

"We believe that broadband customers are not at the moment getting enough information," said Colette Bowe, chairwoman of the Ofcom Consumer Panel. She did however concede in a letter to the firms that she acknowledged there were technical reasons behind some of the speeds, however, warned that it was no excuse for misleading consumers.

Two of the suggestions include extending the length of time before a contract has to be signed so that customers can experience the speed they are receiving. She also put forward proposals that would allow consumers to cancel their contacts with their service providers if the speed they were receiving was far below the advertised speed.

The news follows research by analyst firm Point Topic that found less than half of the population is in a position to benefit from the full 8Mbps oft advertised by many firms.

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