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Broadband customers to be freed from ‘industry jargon’ under Ofcom proposals

Broadband customers will be freed from “industry jargon” about their service when signing up to a new deal under Ofcom proposals.

Under the plans, broadband firms would only use the terms “fibre” and “full-fibre” when communicating with customers if their network uses fibre-optic cables all the way from the exchange to the home.

Customers would also be given a short, easy-to-understand description of the type of broadband network technology they are signing up to.

The plans come as full-fibre networks are being deployed at pace, meaning customers are increasingly able to choose from a range of different technologies for their broadband.

However the term “fibre” is applied inconsistently by the industry, sometimes being used to describe older part-fibre, part-copper technology, which is leading to customer confusion.

Ofcom found that only 46% of customers who reported being on full-fibre broadband were living in areas where it was actually available.

More than a quarter of broadband customers (27%) said they lacked confidence in understanding the language and terminology used by providers.

The regulator said it does not believe existing rules requiring providers to give a description of the service they provide to customers ensures they are clear and consistent enough.

It aims to publish its final decision later this year.

Selina Chadha, Ofcom’s director of connectivity, said: “It’s vital that customers are provided with the right information to help them choose the best broadband service for them.

“But some of the industry jargon used to describe the underlying technology supporting their broadband service can be unclear and inconsistent, meaning customers are left confused.

“So today we’re proposing to introduce new guidance to ensure that broadband firms give clearer, straightforward information about their services – making it easier for people to take advantage of more reliable, and potentially higher speed technology, as it becomes available.”

Alex Tofts, from comparison site Broadband Genie, said: “The language of broadband advertising has been confusing customers for years, so any efforts to make deal terminology more transparent is a step in the right direction.

“It has never seemed fair that providers can advertise a ‘fibre’ deal when the connection is finished off by copper wiring.

“We’re still finding that consumers don’t fully understand the difference between fibre and full fibre. Similarly, the lingo around superfast and ultrafast deals doesn’t properly explain to the consumer how these are different.

“By getting on board with Ofcom’s proposals, providers can help customers feel more confident about their broadband, which may encourage more to switch to faster deals.”