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‘Up to’ broadband campaign wins first Westminster support for fairer broadband charging

Wispa’s ‘Up To’ campaign for pay-what-you-get broadband charging has won its first MP as its petition to Ofcom passed 600 signatures.

Tim Farron, MP for South Lakes in CumbriaTim Farron, MP for South Lakes in Cumbria, has pledged to support the campaign for broadband providers to only charge users for the speed they get instead of an single ‘up to’ rate.

The campaign – launched by rural broadband activists Wispa a week ago – had 644 signatures as of this morning (April 19).

Liberal Democrat MP Farron said: “This system is inherently unfair. Consumers should be paying for what they actually get, rather than a maximum broadband speed that may or may not be available, particularly in rural locations.

“I hope that Ofcom will decide to clamp down on this practice so that broadband rates are advertised in a more honest way.”

Wispa’s petition automatically emails UK communications regulator Ofcom with a call to force broadband providers to operate fairer billing practices.

It’s so far received a cool response from Ofcom, which told customers to run a broadband speed test before they sign up to a broadband service.

Rural ISP Exwavia has backed the campaign, but none of the UK’s other broadband providers have come out in favour, although Virgin Media pointed to its 2010 ‘Stop The Broadband Con’ campaign.

ISPs are now required to post an ‘up to’ speed available to at least 10 per cent of users, which has seen marketing claims changed from ’up to 20Mbps’ to ‘up to 16Mbps’.

The campaign has also declared war on the BBC, with Wispa chief operating officer Richard Brown publishing a conversation with a BBC reporter and accusing them of complicity with Ofcom.

In March, Brown threatened to begin chopping down Wales’ trees to create an urban environment more attractive to superfast broadband providers. 

UPDATE: Adrian Sanders, MP for Torbay and fellow Liberal Democrat, has also backed the ‘up to’ campaign, along with Helen Goodman (Bishop Aukland), and Andrew Gwynne (MP Denton and Reddish and Shadow Health Minister).

Image: David Spender/Flickr