A new regulation coming in the form of an amendment in the Telecommunications Act of Germany could radically change the relationship between consumers and internet service providers.
According to the draft, users will be able to test their internet speeds and, if there’s a too large deviation between their real-world results and what their ISPs promised, they will be eligible for a bill discount.
The discount amount will be comparable to the deviation between the contractually agreed Internet speeds and the actual ones.
To determine their connection speeds, customers will have to use the official internet speed measurement app provided by the German Federal Network Agency.
The measurement process includes 20 tests on two consecutive days, spread as ten tests each day.
This method ensures that any speed deviations are recurring and/or continuous and not the result of a momentary hiccup on the network.
If the Internet download and upload speeds are below 90% of the ISP-promised figures, the customer becomes eligible for a discount.
According to the German consumer protection authorities, deviations from contractual agreements affect over 50% of internet users in the country.
As such, the new law will provide a balancing dynamic and an incentive for ISPs to meet their marketing promises and offer more consistent service quality.
Right now, in most parts of the world, consumers are paying a fixed price in tiered contracts and get whatever speed is technically possible for their location.
This approach frequently leaves consumers wronged compared to others who pay the same amount for the same service package but happen to enjoy better speeds.
Of course, everyone can take the litigation path and claim their rights in court, but most people would skip this costly and tedious process.
From that perspective, the German law that introduces the right to bill discounts is a significant win for consumers. We can only hope to see similar legislation in other countries soon.
The new law will come into force in December 2021, and, considering that regulators submitted the draft in September, they were quick to embrace it and move things forward.