PHILIP Dunne MP has welcomed new protections announced by the telecommunications watchdog Ofcom to give broadband shoppers better information about speeds, before they commit to a contract.

In future, broadband providers will have to give a minimum guaranteed speed to a potential customer at the point of sale.

If that customer’s speed then drops below the promised level, broadband firms will have one month to improve performance.

Failure to do that will enable customers to walk away with out penalty and if appropriate change to a new supplier.

This right to exit a contract will also apply, for the first time, to landline and TV packages bought together with broadband. So, customers won’t be tied to a TV contract bought at the same time as their broadband, if speeds fall short of what was promised, and they decide to leave.

As an extra protection, internet providers must in future provide more realistic peak-time speed information upfront, which reflects the fact that broadband is typically not as fast when more people are online, during the busy periods of 8-10pm, or 12-2pm for businesses.

“I have supported these measures since they were proposed by Ofcom last year, so I am delighted they have now been put in practice and broadband consumers have gained additional protections.

“If you are looking for a new broadband supplier, it is right that providers give you an accurate representation of the service they offer, so you can make an informed choice. These protections will give a welcome boost to consumer confidence for those in south Shropshire looking for a new broadband provider, and help hold broadband suppliers to account – ensuring their performance does not dip over time and consumers can walk away if broadband fails to live up to expected performance standards.”

Broadband availability and speed have been issues in both Ludlow and south Shropshire and in Tenbury and the teme Valley for a long time.

Harriett Baldwin, MP for West Worcestershire whose constituency includes Tenbury has also been campaigning to see improvements in both the availability and speed of broadband in the area that she represents.

There have been a number of initiatives by both Shropshire Council and Worcestershire County Council for improve broadband and projects are still on-going.

It has also been claimed that large sums of money have been made available to improve the services that are provided to both businesses and homes.

Poor broadband is seem as a major barrier to growth with almost every business now using the internet in some form or another.

This includes the filing of tax returns, providing regulatory information and as well as people going on line to buy products and services.

Farmers and growers are major users of the internet and so are people involved in the tourism and hospitality sectors that are vital to the economies of Ludlow and south Shropshire and Tenbury and the Teme Valley.

People looking to book holiday accommodation are likely to make a reservation by using the internet.

Broadband quality in more isolated rural areas has traditionally lagged behind urban areas.