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Monday, March 14, 2011

New UK traffic management code for fixed-line and mobile broadband services

BSkyB, BT, O2, TalkTalk, Three, Virgin Media and Vodafone have all committed to providing better and more easily comparable information to consumers about traffic management (e.g. if and when they slow down or prioritise certain internet services). It’s a voluntary agreement that’s been arranged by the Broadband Stakeholder Group.

The participating companies account for around 90% of all fixed-line broadband customers and 60% of all mobile broadband customers in the UK. They’ll provide information in a common format to explain what traffic management techniques are used, when they’re used and what the impact is.

The new voluntary code includes three commitments:

1: to provide more information to consumers about what traffic management takes place, for what purpose and with what impact.
2: to comply with a set of good practice principles on providing consumer information that is understandable, appropriate, accessible, current, comparable and verifiable.
3: to publish a common Key Facts Indicator table, summarising the traffic management practices for each broadband product offered. This will be available on participating service providers’ websites by the end of June 2011.

Antony Walker, Chief Executive of the Broadband Stakeholder Group, said “There has been more heat than light in the debate about traffic management over recent years. This commitment to provide clear and comparable information in a common format is very important. It will not only help to ensure consumers are better informed about the services they buy and use, but will also provide a clearer picture for policy makers of the way in which traffic management is actually used in the UK market. Consumers need to be able to make informed choices about the services they buy and policy makers need to be able to make informed decisions about the policy and regulatory framework they set. This new commitment provides an essential building block for getting both of these things right.”

The implementation of the code will be reviewed in early 2012 to fine-tune the approach. The BSG says it hopes more Internet Service Providers will sign up to the code following its launch.

[Voluntary industry code of practice (pdf)]

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