The Independent Networks Cooperative Association (INCA) today launched a new Gold Standard Quality Mark Scheme to highlight best practices in performance, design and operations, enabling consumers to buy with confidence when choosing internet packages.
The initiative has been introduced to tackle what INCA says are confusing marketing messages from broadband providers and will provide an agreed set of definitions, covering technology, performance and customer service. Full-fibre, hybrid, wireless and wholesale networks will all be covered by the scheme.
“In a sector where not even the Government and regulator can agree on what ‘superfast’ means and where the advertising watchdog allows copper connections to be called fibre, it is not surprising that consumers and businesses often don’t know what connection they’re getting when it comes to broadband,” said INCA CEO Malcolm Corbett. “There is also a need for the industry, government and Ofcom to work on standards for cross-platform switching between different networks, to increase consumers’ choice of service providers and drive down costs. Currently there are no guidelines for what this type of switching platform should offer, making the process inefficient.
“The INCA Gold Standard Quality Mark Scheme clarifies the information being made available to consumers and encourages a higher quality of broadband across the UK.”
INCA members wishing to receive the Gold Standard Quality Mark will need to go through a validation process and agree to abide by a set of “best practice” criteria. They will then be awarded with a logo to use across its branding to highlight that their networks represent the best in performance, design and operation.
The creation of the scheme is being supported by leading INCA Members. WightFibre and Hyperoptic are the first two Gold Standard Founder Members.
In creating the Gold Standard, INCA has collaborated with several industry and other bodies – Local Government Association, Federation of Communication Services, UKWISPA, Confederation of Aerial Industries and FTTH Council – to ensure a common approach and widest possible input and adoption.
“In a nutshell, we want to make sure taxpayers’ money is being spent on better, fit-for-purpose and fit-for-future networks,” said Corbett. “It will make it easy for home and business customers to identify exactly what service they need and whether it will perform to the standard they expect.”
The Gold Standard Quality Mark Scheme follows the launch of INCA’s inaugural awards which – following a highly successful ceremony at INCA’s Annual Conference – are now known as the INCA Golds ahead of next year’s Call For Entries.