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25 February 2016

Ofcom right to focus on telecoms quality of service, says FSB

Published today, Ofcom’s Strategic Review of Digital Communications has set out plans to deliver a better quality of service across the telecoms industry and improve minimum broadband speeds. These plans mirror those called for by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) report into businesses' digital communications.

Both Ofcom and FSB have found poor quality of service - such as delays in fixing faults and lower than expected broadband speeds - were a major frustration for smaller businesses seeking to do more online.

Today Ofcom has said Openreach will be subject to tougher, minimum requirements to repair faults and install new lines more quickly. Ofcom also plans to introduce automatic compensation for consumers and businesses when things go wrong.

In another key move, Ofcom has called for steadily increasing minimum broadband speeds to be delivered in the form of an escalating Universal Service Obligation (USO). They call for this to be set at 10Mbps but then to rise in line with consumer demand. FSB has consistently called for the USO to be set at 10Mbps, and look forward to Government setting out how to deliver this.

Mike Cherry, Policy Director for the Federation of Small Businesses, said:

“Large numbers of small firms are using new digital technology to revolutionise the way they do business, but the market is still not delivering for all and this is acting as a brake on the ambitions of many businesses.

“Poor quality of service is a major barrier to firms who want to do more online. Ofcom is right to focus on raising minimum standards. Automatic compensation for poor fault repair is also a positive development. Together these should provide a strong financial incentive for providers to improve the quality of service on offer.

“Getting access to superfast broadband is an ongoing issue with business properties continuing to lag the domestic rollout. A stretching Universal Service Obligation for all premises is desperately needed to deliver acceptable levels of speed for small business consumers and put the UK in the digital fast lane.”