Broadband companies must advertise average speeds from May 2018

Alicia Cross
November 24, 2017

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.

Instead providers will have to advertise speeds that at least 50 per cent of its customers can get at peak times.

Following this, the ASA opened a consultation earlier in 2017 proposing a number of tweaks to the rules to make ISPs provide a slightly more balanced picture of what is on offer to residential customers and enable users to make more informed decisions.

ISPA Chair Andrew Glover said: "ISPA supports today's change to rules governing the advertising of broadband speeds as an important way of providing consumers with clear and accurate information".

"While we know these factors mean some people will get significantly slower speeds than others; when it comes to broadband ads, our new standards will give consumers a better understanding of the broadband speeds offered by different providers when deciding to switch providers".

The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) is toughening up the standards following research which found they are now likely to mislead consumers.

The ASA expressed concerns over broadband advertising last November, saying at the time that ISPs were exploiting "low levels of knowledge and understanding of broadband speeds" among customers, with many "not knowing what speed they need to carry out daily online tasks".

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Having considered all of the evidence provided during the review, we've concluded that it is not materially misleading to describe broadband services that use fibre-optic cables for only part of the connection to consumers' homes as "fibre broadband".

Ever sign up to a new internet service provider off the back of some eye-catching advertisement that suggests you'll get blistering download speeds, only to find in reality, most of the time you get nothing close to the advertised figure? "The speeds advertised are the expectation you set, no matter how you try to qualify them".

The days of ISPs claiming broadband speeds that ordinary customers could never hope to achieve might finally be coming to an end, after the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) issued proposals to crack down on misleading claims.

"However, consumers may start to see a much wider variety of speeds in adverts, and with the addition of the peak time period (defined as 8pm to 10pm) there is likely to be more variation between providers".

Consumers may interpret a range as the speed they are likely to get individually, as opposed to the range that consumers generally are likely to get, and a range doesn't tell consumers where in the range they fall, if at all.

However, the watchdog found that while consumers did notice fibre claims in ads, consumers regarded it as a "shorthand buzzword to describe modern, fast broadband".

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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