Department for Culture, Media and Sport written question – answered on 26th February 2016.

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Photo of Daniel Zeichner Daniel Zeichner Shadow Minister (Transport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, what recent assessment he has made of the capacity of Ofcom to protect the rights of internet service provider customers.

Photo of Ed Vaizey Ed Vaizey Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Business, Innovation and Skills), Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Culture Media and Sport)

Ofcom is the independent communications regulator under the Communications Act 2003. It has a principal duty to protect end users and has in place general conditions for service providers for this purpose. Providers are also required to be a member of an approved alternative dispute resolution (ADR) scheme: http://consumers.ofcom.org.uk/complain/phone-and-broadband-complaints/adr.

This ensures that complaints can be resolved and providers have to abide by any decisions made. Ofcom ensures that the ADR scheme operates in accordance with the criteria set out in the Communications Act, by monitoring to ensure the required standard is met.

Ofcom’s Code of Practice for broadband speeds requires Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to provide clear and accurate information about broadband speeds, including maximum levels, estimated speed and factors that may slow it down such as fair usage, or traffic management policies. ISPs are required to have in place systems, which find the cause of speed problems, take steps to fix issues and explain if they can do anything to improve the situation. Also, consumers can terminate their contracts at any time without penalty, if they receive speeds significantly below the minimum guaranteed access line speed.

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