19th Jul 2016
The Digital Economy Bill is designed to improve the UK’s position in digital services and provision. It is designed to improve services and protections for consumers and to reform the way government uses data to deliver public services.
It is clear that the main focus of this Bill will be to enhance the broadband service that people receive and to give consumers more information, making it easier for them to choose which provider they use and to hold them to account for the service they provide. Part of this is to address concerns that broadband speeds for many households rarely, if ever, reaches the speed that providers promise.
It also promises to improve the use of data and information by Government to improve public services and enable them to become more responsive to the needs of those who use and rely on them.
The main measures that the Bill will contain will include:
• The Bill will introduce a power to introduce a new Broadband Universal Service Obligation – giving all citizens and businesses the legal right to have a fast broadband connection installed. This would work similarly to the landline telephone USO, and just like for landlines there would be a reasonable cost threshold above which the very remotest properties may be expected to contribute to the cost of the installation. The Government expects the minimum speed to be at least 10Mbps initially, and the Bill would also include a power to direct Ofcom to review the speed over time to make sure it is still sufficient for modern life.
• A new power for Ofcom to order communications providers to release data (such as customer complaints and broadband speeds data) in the interests of the consumer and competition. This would give consumers clear household-level information about broadband speeds from different providers, to help them make informed choices.
• New measures to make switching providers easier for consumers by allowing Ofcom to require communications companies to coordinate switches on behalf of customers. This would mean consumers would only have to deal with their new provider in order to switch.
• A new right for consumers to automatic compensation when things go wrong with their broadband service.