BT, TalkTalk and Virgin Media will work with Ofcom on a new Code of Practice to improve broadband services for SMEs in the UK.
The ISPs and Ofcom will develop a new policy specifically targeting enterprise broadband services, after the regulator revealed that the country’s enterprises felt underserved current offerings.
A survey of 1,500 SMEs by Ofcom in 2014 found that 20 percent of smaller businesses felt speeds fell below expected levels.
This is despite 83 percent of such businesses citing communications services as “fundamental” to business, according to more recent findings from Ofcom.
The regulator said it had identified several areas that “need to be addressed by a combination of regulation, public policy and action” by broadband suppliers in its new Code for business broadband.
A new speeds agreement will be agreed upon, for example, similar to that covering consumer broadband, which allows customers to leave their contract if speeds fall below minimum levels.
However, Ofcom said that the Code “may need to be tailored to particular needs of smaller businesses”, such as commitments around upload speeds.
The regulator also recommended that the UK Government set “explicit targets” for coverage for business broadband, citing research that said just 56 percent of SMEs had access to super-fast broadband.
Finally, businesses will be given the option to pay more for packages that include quicker repair services.
While BT Openreach offers such a service to retail customers, the majority of ISPs don’t extend this offer to enterprises, Ofcom said.
Sharon White, Chief Executive of Ofcom, commented: "Small businesses are essential to the UK economy, and most rely on telecoms services to carry out their everyday work. But some companies lack the resources or expertise to get the services they need.
"We've made clear we want to see better broadband coverage, quality of service, information and advice for all consumers, and that means business users too. So we are taking action alongside industry and the Government to make that happen."