Ofcom Takes Aim at Confusing Jargon in UK Fibre Sector, Says FullFibre

The UK’s telecoms regulator, Ofcom, has taken a significant step towards addressing the issue of confusing jargon prevalent in the fibre sector. While the implementation is expected no earlier than autumn, Ofcom has acknowledged the critical need for clarity regarding what constitutes fibre and full fibre.

Given the coexistence of legacy networks with full fibre, often presenting a mix of both, consumers find it challenging to discern the specifics of their purchases. According to Ofcom’s research, only 46% of customers purportedly using full-fibre broadband were residing in areas where it was genuinely available. Additionally, over a quarter (27%) of broadband customers lacked confidence in understanding the terminologies employed by providers.

In response to these concerns, Ofcom is advocating for internet providers to offer unambiguous information, standardizing industry references concerning the network type. This would entail providers refraining from labeling a connection as ‘fibre’ or ‘full fibre’ unless it is genuinely a Fiber to the Premises (FTTP) connection. Ofcom is proposing new guidelines that mandate providers to furnish information on the broadband connection’s underlying technology using one or two consistent terms. Furthermore, providers should present a more detailed explanation of these terms in an easily accessible format for customers.

This development is being lauded by alternative network providers (altnets) who have campaigned for years for a clearer message, especially considering the confusing terminology employed by major incumbent providers when marketing their connections. Clarity in communication is expected to empower consumers, potentially prompting them to switch to genuine full-fibre connections.

James Warner, Chief Strategy Officer at FullFibre, expressed relief at the announcement, emphasizing that customers will finally have a clearer understanding of what they are acquiring with broadband purchases. However, he also expressed disappointment over the delayed implementation, calling for a swift transition to ensure customers are not misled. Warner hopes this initiative marks the beginning of consistent and clear communication within the sector, ultimately benefiting both consumers and the industry as a whole.

Jonny Rae

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