It shouldn't all be about speed

Felix Geyr, O2's Head of Home and Broadband, comments on the Ofcom Broadband Speeds Code of Practice.

Felix_jan_2010
In 2008 Ofcom launched a voluntary code of practice for ISPs to provide customers with clear indications of the speed they are likely to get on their service. It was a service that was supposed to cut through customer confusion. While there is no doubt customers are being given better speed information I would question whether talking about speed is the right thing to do.

At O2 we are happy to be a part of the code and we absolutely agree that a customer should be entitled to know exactly what broadband speed they can expect to get. Before completing a purchase, we carry out a line check to estimate the speed the customer can receive. This is checked again after connection to ensure the package selected by the customer is the right one for them, and that they only pay for the package with the speed their line can support.

We also launched our industry leading 30-day Happiness Guarantee, allowing customers who weren’t satisfied with our service the opportunity to leave us, within this period, at no cost.

I am delighted that O2 Home Broadband generally comes out top, or almost top, in the majority of speed tests that are issued, including ones endorsed by Ofcom. This is valuable for customers looking to buy or switch broadband providers as well as for us as a business.

Over the past couple of years we have invested heavily in our own LLU broadband network, and we will continue this investment in 2010.

We are already committed to only giving our customers what they can achieve through their broadband connection. If you can only get 6Mbps then we will only sell you our standard package. If you can get 20Mbps then you can choose from any of our packages.

However, I do wonder whether it is time to review the way we sell broadband in general.

Misleading customers on speed is unacceptable. However, it may be time for the industry as a whole to look at what the best way to sell broadband is. As I said at the beginning I am not convinced that basing products on speed is the right thing to do anyway. It could be that in the future the broadband industry will have to change the way it packages broadband. Whatever that is will have to make packages clearer and more straightforward for customers.

I believe that this makes sense and gives customers peace of mind.

I welcome this review of the Ofcom Broadband Speeds Code of Practice and as a business we will look at the recommendations with interest.