New rules will prevent broadband firms from misleading speeds of service


Broadband firms will no longer be able to claim higher internet speeds which are actually unavailable to the vast majority of customers following a major shake up of how telecoms firms will be allowed to advertise.

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The body said that consumers may now interpret a range publicised by broadband companies as the speed they are likely to get individually, as opposed to the range that they generally are likely to get.

Currently, we see advertised "up to" speeds should be available to at least 10 per cent of customers, which means only 10 per cent of broadband customers need to receive a headline download speed for providers to promote it in their ads, such as the below for BT Infinity.

However, it advises advertisers to not state or imply a service is the most technologically advanced on the market if it's a part-fibre service.

Most argued that the fairest and clearest way would be to use the average speeds achieved at peak time by 50% of customers.

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The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) is toughening up the standards following research which found they are now likely to mislead consumers. We thought that a 24-hour measurement has the potential to mislead consumers by not providing an indication of the speed they are likely to receive at the time when people use the internet the most.

"As a result, some providers may elect to refuse service to customers likely to get speeds at the slower end of the scale, which restricts provider choice".

"I'm delighted to see that Cap is finally changing the way broadband speeds are advertised". "The older ADSL2+ services generally sold as up to 17Mbps today will probably see adverts talking of 6 to 9Mbps".

The ASA also considered whether the use of "fibre" in broadband advertising was misleading for ISPs that only use fibre to the road-side phone cabinet, relying on a copper connection for the so-called last mile to a consumer's home.

Alongside its new rules governing broadband speed, the ASA has also announced the outcome of its review of the use of the word fibre in broadband advertising. When questioned consumers said they didn't notice "fibre" claims in ads and when probed said they took it to mean that the service offered was modern fast broadband.

The ASA's decision not to address the difference between FTTC and FTTP has prompted a furious reaction from some of the UK's largest pure fibre suppliers CityFibre, Gigaclear and Hyperoptic, which issued a joint statement condemning the decision and vowing to fight it. "Headline "up to" speeds that only need to be available to 10% of consumers are incredibly misleading - customers need clear, concise and accurate information in order to make an informed choice".