Is your internet slow enough to get out of your deal?

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New broadband rules will help subscribers get out contracts if their connection speed is too slow.

Until now, customers would find themselves stuck in a deal after the first three months - unless they were up for paying a buy-out fee.

Under new Ofcom rules, they'll now be able to leave at any point but only if their broadband is slow enough.

So does it affect you, how bad does it have to be and how do you test your speed?

The techy bit

wires

The new rules apply to internet service providers (ISPs) using digital subscriber line (DSL) technology.

That means BT, EE, Sky and TalkTalk are all affected, but Virgin Media - which uses a cable-based system - is not affected.

When a customer signs up to a deal, providers have to tell users the range of speeds a customer can expect.

However, there is another measurement that companies are less likely to mention: the minimum guaranteed access line speed (MGALS).

This is the fastest download speed delivered to the slowest 10% of customers on a similar service.

Until now, users could get out of their broadband contract without paying an extra fee within 90 days if their home fell below the MGALS.

Under the new rules, they can do this at any time, as long they give the provider a "reasonable" opportunity to fix the problem.

How bad does my connection have to be?

snail on a wire

It all relates to the MGALS.

For example, let's say there are 10,000 homes within 4km (2.5 miles) of the local phone exchange.

If the fastest speed achieved by 10% (1,000) of the slowest properties was 7Mbps, that would be the MGALS for the area.

If your speed falls below the MGALS level, then you will be allowed to leave your contract without paying extra - no matter how far into you're agreement you are.

Your internet provider will be able to tell you what the MGALS is for your area.

So how do I check my speed?

Stopwatch
Image caption Don't use a stopwatch - this is just a stock image to illustrate internet speeds

There are a few ways to do this.

Plenty of websites and service providers offer internet speed checking tools but Ofcom suggest this one is a good place to start.

The distance your home is from the telephone exchange, the time of day you go online and the number of people in your home using the internet at the same time, can all play a part in slowing down your connection.

Your provider will be able to tell you what speed they expect you to get before you sign up to a deal.

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