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Virgin Media has responded to suggestions that internet service providers are failing to live up to speed promises made in advertising with the launch of a pledge to “banish unrealistic claims” and make information more transparent.

Last week, Ofcom published a study in which it claimed that the average broadband speed delivered by suppliers was around 57 per cent of what was purported in advertising campaigns. According to the communications regulator, while the average advertised speed of a fixed line broadband connection is ‘up to 7.1Mb’ the actual speed that customers receive is around 4.1Mb.

In response to the study, Virgin Media, which Ofcom named as the provider whose speeds most closely match those in their ads, has launched the National Broadband Best Speed Promise. According to the broadband supplier this is a guarantee to provide customers with “honest and transparent information about the technical capabilities of their broadband connection at point of sale”.

The pledge will see the introduction of a maximum 'up to' speed claim where the company can demonstrate that a customer’s connection is technically capable of delivering such a speed via, for instance, a fibre optic broadband network. Should such a connection be unattainable, Virgin Media's advertising spots “will clearly state the fastest broadband we can give you up to the limits of the broadband technology available”.

Neil Berkett, Chief Executive Officer at Virgin Media, said: “Many consumers are confused by speed claims that are, at best, misleading and, at worst, disingenuous. I hope our National Broadband Speed Promise will help people choose the product that’s right for them and set a new standard of transparency for the whole industry.”

Virgin’s Media’s reaction to the Ofcom investigation comes just days after BT questioned the validity of the tests, with BT consumer managing director John Petter dubbing the report “sadly out of date”. Mr Petter highlighted concerns he harboured over the methodology of the study and noted that the report was based on “a tiny sample”.

To coincide with its pledge, Virgin Media has also announced the launch of a range of new broadband products aimed at delivering super-fast broadband to homes that are not covered by its fibre optic broadband network. Where possible, these will use ADSL2+ technology to enable users to take advantage of all the new, bandwidth-hungry entertainment options offered by the internet.

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