206.Over the course of this inquiry we have been aware of several significant consumer-related broadband and communications issues which we have not been able to cover in this report. Instead we propose to return to these in the autumn, holding one-off evidence sessions looking at a variety of specific areas. For instance, there is much concern over the way internet service providers use misleading “up to speeds” when advertising broadband services when it would be far more accurate to provide more realistic predictions—a position which the Minister described as “an utter joke.”
207.In facilitating competition, it has been a slow and protracted path in bringing about faster and less costly ways to enable people to move between providers of communication services. This has become a more complex regulatory issue given the increasing tendency for consumers and providers to prefer packaging services where people buy phone, internet and TV content together. Over the last few years Ofcom has been working towards introducing gainer-provider switching and extending this to all deals regardless of whether someone chooses to buy services separately or as a package. An associated issue is the standards of customer service delivered by the communications industry. In this report we have focussed on the position of Openreach but we are also aware that standards have varied and continue to vary greatly among providers. Ensuring customers have proper redress when things go wrong and the ability to switch providers without disruption are two connected areas that we will cover in the autumn.
208.Finally, given that EU law covers telecoms, internet, broadcasting and transmission services, we will consider their provision in relation to the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. For example, the position over roaming mobile charges for those travelling to EU member states, which were due to end, and the way the ‘Country of Origin’ principle operates in relation to broadcasting of services across Europe but enabling a broadcaster to be registered and regulated in one state.
18 July 2016