Internet subscription is often priced according to the connection speed on offer. The range within which the offered speed can fluctuate is currently being considered in the Ministry of Transport and Communications.
The regulation regarding the minimum speed of a practical public service internet-speed is currently in circulation of a proposal for comment. The aim is to determine a reasonably priced connection speed for everybody and the exceptions allowed in it. The definition is needed because citizens must have an access to adequate and reliable connections. In future alongside with e-mail and web browsing more and more services, such as health care and security services, will require different efficiency from the internet connection.
Maximum range to be 25 per cent
When justifying the Communications Market Act the parliament considers that in future it would be reasonable to set a minimum speed for internet connections. In this case a temporary reduction of average speed, not over 25 percent, would be acceptable. The draft regulation states, however, that within a short time range, such as during the rush hour, it would be sufficient to have a speed range of as much as 50 per cent. The Consumer Agency does not support deviations from the 25 per cent recorded in the legislative history.
For consumers it’s essential that the service quality does not substantially and repeatedly differ from what has been agreed. Telecom companies sell internet subscriptions at different prices depending on the connection speed. It is not reasonable to expect consumers to pay for a faster connection speed than that which the subscription actually makes possible. Even a temporary drop in speed from 1 megabyte to, for example 512 kilobytes, significantly limits the advantages of the available services.
Speed is marketed using approximate numbers
When connection speed is marketed and sold, the factors limiting the connection speed are not always highlighted. For instance, mobile network customers are sold only a certain theoretical maximum speed, such as 1 megabyte, which works in 3G-area. The consumer then gets a misleading impression that if he/she buys the 1 megabyte subscription it will work at the specified speed everywhere.
In Sweden the bigger network operators have agreed to stop using theoretical maximum speeds during marketing. This is a step in the right direction. However, to ensure that marketing will not be misleading, it would be more important to explain the speed range or give examples about the average speed. In Finland the Consumer Agency has given guidelines on connection speed marketing.
Even the wireless surfer deserves a quality connection (3/2009)