Tuesday 12 December 2017

Watchdog to tackle net providers' false boasts

Pat Rabbitte: concerns over net speed claims.
Pat Rabbitte: concerns over net speed claims.

Adrian Weckler, Technology Editor

The telecoms regulator, ComReg, is to launch a new monitoring service aimed at naming and shaming broadband providers who advertise misleading broadband speeds.

Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte has said the move will help to tackle concerns among broadband customers over over-stated broadband speeds.

"I get letters from all parts of the country in this regard," he told a Dail sub-committee on communications, energy and natural resources.

"The frustration is there in relation to speeds."

The new service is expected to allow broadband users to log speeds in an effort to create a register. It will be introduced between April and June.


"We want to do a lot more this year in relation to broadband speeds," said Kevin O'Brien, chairman of ComReg.

"We've been planning this service for some time. The aim is to build up a sample in all parts of the country with a view to building up a detailed database."

Mr O'Brien told the Irish Independent that the new service would be restricted to revealing actual customer speeds, rather than taking further action against low-performing operator services.

"Unfortunately, we wouldn't have any basis to take regulatory action in this context," he said. "But we hope that it will make the consumer more aware and more empowered."

Most internet providers advertise broadband products that promise download speeds of 'up to' a certain number of megabits-per-second (Mbs).

Some providers guarantee minimum broadband speeds. However, the largest broadband provider, Eircom, advises that customer speeds are dependent on line quality.

Internet providers that do not deliver promised broadband speeds can be reported to the Advertising Standard Authority of Ireland. However, this is a slow process with limited national consultation.

However, the Government does not intend to introduce tighter controls on telecoms operators, according to Mr Rabbitte.

"It would not be appropriate to include a penalty in legislation for lack of speeds," he said.

"I share the concerns of misleading claims with regard to download speeds. But I believe that legislation is not the appropriate way to deal with this."

Irish Independent

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