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An internet provider boss has said there is misunderstanding over the 'up to' expression in relation to broadband speeds.

The issue of advertised broadband speeds is a hot topic in the industry.

Critics of it say that using the phrase 'up to' disguises the speeds consumers actually achieve, with the headline speed advertised usually unachievable.

Last year the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) asked the Committee of Advertising Practice and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice to review broadband speed claims in advertisements.

The phrase could even be completely banned.

Mr Kennard, boss of Andrews & Arnold, said the 'up to' concept is easy to understand and is sceptical of organisations that want it scrapped.

Writing on his blog, Mr Kennard said some people read the 'up to' expression as meaning 'at least' when in fact it means the opposite.

"In fact if I bought an "up to 20Mb" service and got 21Mb then that would be false advertising!" he wrote.

"ISPs advertise services as "up to 20Mb". The full rate is possible, but you have to be pretty close to the exchange. Typically people get lower rates."

Mr Kennard said DSL technology allows speeds that adapt to line connections, meaning speeds are dependent on line length and quality.

"Why the public seem not to understand this simple term is beyond me, but it seems to be the case," he wrote.

Responding earlier this year to the ASA consultation, consumer group Which? said broadband speed claims in advertising do not sufficiently communicate realistic speeds to customers.

It proposed retaining the 'up to' qualifier where higher speeds can be achieved but stressed it should be accompanied by a typical speed range with offers a more realistically achievable speed.

"One thing's certain based on all the feedback we receive from consumers - the way broadband speed is currently advertised simply isn't transparent enough and often leaves broadband customers feeling misled and short-changed," said Which? broadband expert Ceri Stanaway.

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