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Broadband ESSENTIAL to life, titsup ISPs must cough up - court

Aber nur in Deutschland, ha ha. Entschuldigung Engländer!

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Home broadband isn't yet deemed a vital utility in Europe, but that hasn't stopped a German court ruling that ISPs should compensate customers who suffer from network service disruptions.

The decision in the Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe was made after it described the internet as an "essential" part of life, Reuters reported.

It came following the court hearing a case of a bloke who couldn't access his DSL connection at home - which included a telephone and fax line - for two months at the end of 2008.

The man was recompensed for having to use a mobile phone during the time his access to the internet was cut off. But he successfully argued that, as a matter of principle, the internet was an essential material item - which means under German law that compensation for loss of that service should be provided.

In the UK, telcos have service level agreements in place for business customers, but there is no rigid case for compensation on the consumer side.

The onus is on the subscribers to complain about a loss of service and Ofcom has guidelines - such as the Alternative Dispute Resolution programme that puts middlemen between internet providers and peeved customers - which are meant to encourage companies to play fair. ®

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