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Student News

You can now ditch your broadband FOR FREE if it’s too slow

The new regulations will give customers greater rights when it comes to slow broadband speeds – here's how you could benefit.

leave broadband provider if internet too slow

Credit (left): Warner Bros & Netflix, Credit (right): fizkes Shutterstock

If you've never been faced with the Netflix buffer wheel of doom at 10pm on a Thursday night while you're three hours deep into your binge, we've got some great news for you.

Thousands of people around the country put up with slow broadband speeds, but thanks to new Ofcom regulations, this could soon be about to change.

Now internet providers must provide a guaranteed minimum speed to customers. If the speed you receive falls below the guarantee, they have a month to sort it out – after which time you can ditch your contract free of charge.

What are the new broadband speed rules?

new broadband speed rules

Ofcom has introduced new regulations to improve transparency about internet speeds and to give consumers the power to leave their contract if they're getting a bad deal. Here's exactly what the new rules mean:

  • Firstly, broadband providers like Virgin and BT now have to provide new customers with a guaranteed minimum speed at peak times – typically between 8pm and 10pm. This means you'll know exactly what to expect at the times when you use the internet most
  • If your broadband speed drops below this guaranteed minimum, your provider has 30 days to sort it out. If the situation doesn't improve in that time, you're now entitled to leave your contract free of charge
  • If your broadband is part of a landline and TV package, you won't be trapped. You'll be able to ditch your entire contract (including landline and TV) if you see no change in the 30-day time limit
  • The rules also apply to all broadband types, including copper, part/full fibre and cable broadband.
  • The regulations also state that this information must be provided to new customers regardless of whether they ask for it to ensure transparency.
Don't get ripped off! Check out our guide to the best student broadband deals and get faster speeds for less.

How will the new rules affect you?

faster broadband speeds

With recent research showing that broadband is too slow in a quarter of UK homes, the new rules are a big step in the right direction towards addressing this problem.

The main catch with all this is that it only applies to new (or renewed) contracts from Friday 1st March 2019 onwards. So if you're suffering from slow broadband speeds right now, chances are you'll have to wait until your contract's up before you'll see the benefit of these new rules.

It's also worth noting it only applies to broadband providers signed up to Ofcom's voluntary code of practice. But this includes BT, EE, Plusnet, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media, who between them cover 95% of home broadband customers in the UK.

However, if you're with a smaller provider like the Post Office or Vodafone, you won't be able to exercise the same rights.

Director of the Ofcom consumer group, Lindsey Fussell, said:

When you sign a contract, you should be treated fairly and know exactly what you’re getting.

These protections mean broadband shoppers can buy with confidence. Before they sign up, customers will be told their minimum internet speed. And if companies break that promise, they’ll have to sort it out quickly, or let the customer walk away.

However, some have pointed out that aside from meaning extra hassle for the consumer, leaving your broadband provider doesn't actually guarantee that you'll be able to find a faster speed elsewhere.

Looking for faster and cheaper internet? Check out our definitive guide to the best student broadband deals in 2019 and how to switch provider.

Jessica Murray

WRITTEN BY Jessica Murray

As an Editor of Save the Student, Jessica Murray has written extensively on student money news and money-saving tips. She was co-host of our podcast, No More Beans, and is now a journalist at the Guardian. Her tips and insights range from fun guides for freshers, to information for graduates entering the workplace.
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