Broadband providers must come clean on speed - Ofcom

LONDON Thu Nov 24, 2011 3:05pm GMT

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LONDON (Reuters) - Telecoms regulator Ofcom said on Thursday broadband suppliers should be clearer about how they manage traffic on their networks and the speeds users can expect to achieve.

Most Internet Service Providers (ISPs), including BT, Virgin Media and TalkTalk, restrict the speed of some bandwidth-heavy services such as peer-to-peer file sharing to help protect the performance of their networks.

They started voluntarily publishing data on traffic management earlier this year, but Ofcom wants them to make it clearer to consumers or else it will force them to make changes.

"How ISPs control access to the internet affects us all and it is important that we are able to understand how our access might be restricted," Ofcom Chief Executive Ed Richards said.

"Ofcom is now looking to the ISPs to ensure that transparent information is available, and will consider intervening if it does not see improvements."

The regulator said traffic management was in general beneficial, but it could cause concern, if for example, it was used by ISPs to target competing services without its users knowing.

It said ISPs should make information available at the point of sale about the speed consumers should expect, the impact of traffic management, and whether any specific services would be blocked.

BSkyB, which does not manage traffic on its own network, said it welcomed the call for full openness and transparency on ISP traffic management policies.

(Reporting by Paul Sandle. Editing by Jane Merrian)

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