Web roll out ‘fails to hit full speed’, report MPs

MPs are demanding automatic compensation for families who do not get the internet speeds they pay for, with Ofcom urged to get tougher on broadband providers. Picture by Rui Vieira/PA Wire
MPs are demanding automatic compensation for families who do not get the internet speeds they pay for, with Ofcom urged to get tougher on broadband providers. Picture by Rui Vieira/PA Wire
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More than 50 MPs are today demanding urgent improvements to Britain’s broadband amid warnings millions of connections may not reach a proposed minimum standard.

The British Infrastructure Group of MPs want automatic compensation for families who do not get internet speeds they pay for, with Ofcom urged to get tougher on broadband providers.

Its new ‘Broadbad 2.0’ report, co-signed by 57 MPs including Yorkshire’s Sir Kevin Barron, Clive Betts, Dame Rosie Winterton, Mary Creagh, Andrea Jenkyns and Sir Greg Knight, found that up to 6.7m UK broadband connections may not receive download speeds above the proposed minimum of 10 megabits per second (Mbs).

Less than half of all UK connections are thought not to receive superfast speeds of 24 Mbs.

Ofcom previously found 1.4m people have download speeds below 10 Mbs, while the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said millions of people had not signed up to superfast broadband.

However, MPs say Ofcom’s data does not distinguish between connections for customers not signed up to superfast broadband, and customers not getting speeds they pay for.

This is disputed by Ofcom, which said they provide “robust, comprehensive data on broadband take-up and availability”.

Former Tory party chairman Grant Shapps, who chairs the group of MPs, said: “Although broadband is increasingly considered to be an essential utility, the quality of customer services has simply not caught up with demand.”

MPs want Ofcom to produce better data on take-up and availability of connections, and consider legal rather than voluntary codes of practice for internet providers.

An Ofcom spokesman said: “We share concerns that broadband must improve, and we’re already taking firm, wide-ranging action to protect customers.”

A DCMS spokesman said nearly 95 per cent of the UK can get superfast broadband but millions of homes and businesses had not yet chosen to upgrade, but said its 10Mbs universal service obligation “will make sure that no-one is left behind”.

The MPs report came as the Government earmarked £200m of its £3.5bn Rural Development Programme for England to support growth of rural businesses, including £30m to improve rural broadband by 2020.