Last year, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) put in place changes that require broadband providers to replace ‘up to’ speeds with average speeds when advertising different broadband packages. On 23 May, these changes come into effect, meaning that broadband speeds are about to change.
Here's everything you need to know about average speeds.
Previously, broadband providers could advertise the older ‘up to’ speeds if they were available to at least 10% of customers at any time of day. The three most common ‘up to’ speeds were 17Mbps, 38Mbps and 76Mbps.
The new average speeds must be available to at least 50% of customers at peak time, which refers to when the highest number of people are online. For residential broadband, it’s 8pm to 10pm, but for business broadband, it’s earlier in the day.
Whether you’re talking about ‘up to’ or ‘average’ speeds, though, it’s important to note that these only refer to download speeds, not upload speeds, which are usually much slower. Going forward, though, these changes do apply to advertising upload speeds, too, so if you do see any upload speeds, they should also be average speeds rather than ‘up to’ speeds.
Average speeds are not guaranteed, nor are they an estimate of the broadband speed you can expect at your home. Since average speeds must be achievable by 50% of customers instead of the old ‘up to’ speeds, which only had to be available to 10% of customers, there’s a higher likelihood — a 50% chance, in fact — that you’ll be able to get these speeds, but there’s no guarantee.
Most providers will give you an average speed estimate and a minimum speed for your address whenever you purchase a new broadband package, so if you’re shopping around, take note of the speeds listed there. Otherwise, your speed estimate may be listed in your broadband contract.
It’s important to take note of the minimum speed your provider quotes, too, since if your broadband is regularly below that speed, you may be able to claim money back, depending upon who your provider is and whether they offer this, or you can possibly terminate your contract early without paying any fees.
To find out what broadband speeds you’re currently getting, take regular broadband speed tests to see if you’re getting the minimum speeds.