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Broadband traffic management: Nobody cares, according to Ofcom – UPDATED

How important is your ISPs traffic management policy? Do you care about traffic shaping at all? If you do, you’re in the minority according to Ofcom. 

The regulator commissioned a study looking at how broadband customers reacted to traffic management and if the UK’s ISPs needed to do more to make their traffic management policies more transparent. 

Ofcom’s survey of 2,093 customers across the UK who had previously switched ISP or were about to, found that only around 1 per cent of people had considered checking out a providers traffic management policy. 

Broadband traffic management: Nobody cares, according to Ofcom
A series of tubes: A simplistic breakdown of Internet traffic

For 50 per cent of broadband customers, cost was the biggest factor when it came to picking the right service, with 50 per cent of these choosing to get their broadband as part of a bundle. Almost half of all broadband customers (49 per cent) were likely to have a pay TV service with their broadband bundle. 

After price, speed was the next most important factor with reliability of a connection considered the third most important factor. 

Despite price and other factors trumping traffic management in terms of importance, Ofcom is looking at how ISPs can do more to help explain their policies to customers. 

Of the 9 per cent of consumers who were aware of an ISP’s management policy, 73 per cent claimed that the information provided was easy to understand. 

Claudio Pollack, Ofcom’s Consumer Group Director, said: “It’s important that ISPs provide clear and transparent information on their traffic management policies to help consumers make informed choices when buying their internet service. 

“Ofcom will continue to work with industry to ensure this information meets the needs of consumers and explore further ways of improving awareness of traffic management.” 

In March, Ofcom and the BSG (Broadband Stakeholder Group), consisting of the UK’s ISPs, introduced the Traffic Management Transparency Code which set out guidelines on how to communicate traffic shaping to customers. 

We’ve reviewed the traffic management policies of the major UK ISPs here, revealing all of their limits (if any) and explaining what you get with each ISP. 

Update: Lyssa McGowan, brand director for communications products for Sky has welcomed Ofcom’s findings and was keen to point out that Sky has never shaped traffic or introduced caps on its unlimited products:

“At Sky we believe consumers want unlimited services – as well as the peace of mind that ‘unlimited’ really means unlimited. As the only ISP which has never had any usage caps, fair-use policies or traffic management on our unlimited products we welcome the proposals by Ofcom that those who do traffic shape must be more transparent about it. This will ensure consumers can make informed decisions.

“Being open and transparent demonstrates our commitment to providing the best possible service. As a result more and more customers are switching to Sky, making us the fastest growing ISP.”





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