Ofcom wants to give Britons the right to cancel their broadband when speed guarantees are broken

A new consultation by the UK telcoms regulator Ofcom will require ISPs to match the speeds they advertise, and if they fail to do so, customers will get the right to unilaterally cancel their broadband subscriptions without penalty.

The UK's telephony infrastructure — copper and fibre — is regulated with a line-sharing arrangement typical of developed nations with the exception of the USA, which eliminated the schemes in the early years of George W Bush's first term. Under the deal, any ISP can provide service on the lines that come into your home or business, which promotes competition on price and performance. It also allows brilliant ISPs like Andrews and Arnold to provide service to anyone in the country.

Under these rules, customers who have been misled by deceptive advertising will be able to take their business to one of these other ISPs, impeded only by the absolutely, unforgivable terrible performance of BT Openreach, the company that actually connects and disconnects the lines, who perform this duty with all the competence, cheerfulness and coordination of the zombies in The Walking Dead.

Andrew Ferguson, editor of Think Broadband, said: "The code-of-practice changes are very welcome, but it's clear from years of experience that broadband providers are not deliberately and systematically ripping off the customer.

"The biggest problem for an ISP is balancing the desires of the marketing department against what consumers are actually experiencing every day. These rules, once implemented, should help to force providers to be more honest with their customers," said Mr Ferguson.

Internet speed guarantees must be realistic, says Ofcom