Consumers need to be properly informed about the services they are paying for and it is incumbent upon service providers to make this clear to their customers. Section 27(f) of Ofcom's voluntary Code of Practice for broadband speeds calls for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to:
“explain to the consumer in a clear and meaningful way that the actual throughput speed [...] experienced by a consumer will be influenced by a number of factors including the ISP's network capacity, the ISP's traffic shaping and management policy, the number of subscribers online at any one time, by time of day etc.”.
It is important that such information is made available by all providers. Changes to the European electronic communications framework directives which were agreed at the end of 2009 require:
“undertakings providing public electronic communications networks and/or publicly available electronic communications sendees to [...] provide information on any procedures put in place by the provider to measure and shape traffic so as to avoid filling or overfilling a network link, and on how those procedures could impact on sendee quality” (Citizen's Rights amending directive article 21.3 (d)).
This Department will be bringing forward secondary legislation to implement these changes in the UK by 25 May 2011 and will consult fully on the changes over the summer.