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Citizens Advice believes an upcoming change in the rules on broadband advertising will make it easier for consumers to get the best deals.

Providers are currently allowed to advertise broadband speeds if they are available to ten per cent of their customers.

However, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) believes this can be misleading, with most customers not getting the speeds they expected.

The watchdog has therefore pledged to tighten the rules on broadband speed advertising and put a new system in place by next year.

This announcement has been welcomed by Citizens Advice, as it believes misleading adverts are making it too difficult for consumers to work out the cheapest broadband package.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of the body, commented: "It’s good news for consumers that the ASA is proposing to change the rules to make it much clearer what broadband speeds people can expect to receive. This will help people shop around for the best deal.”

Ms Guy stated that people rely on the internet in their day-to-day lives, which means decent broadband services are increasingly becoming an essential service, like banking and energy.

She argued that since more and more services are moving online, such as applications for benefits and household bills, people must be confident that the broadband speed they sign up for is what they will actually receive.

"One in five of the broadband cases we help with each year on poor service is about speed," Ms Guy noted.

The Internet Services Providers’ Association (ISPA) has also backed the ASA's stance, saying it "fully supports" its efforts to bring the guidance on broadband advertising up to date.

James Blessing, Chair of the ISPA Council, said: "The ASA now needs to adopt an evidence-based approach to developing a revised set of rules that delivers actual benefits to consumers and takes account of developing broadband technologies."

He argued that any new guidance must reflect that while speed is important, it is not the only consideration weighed up by a customer.

Furthermore, he stressed that the ASA has not yet identified an effective alternative to the current approach.

"ISPA, alongside the wider internet industry, looks forward to supporting the ASA in developing a revised and evidence-based guidance on this and getting a workable new understanding of how speeds should be advertised," Mr Blessing said.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has already suggested specific ways in which the rules governing broadband advertising can be changed.

It suggests broadband providers should only be permitted to promote average speeds, as this would better reflect the speeds available in peak periods, when connections are often slower because of high usage.

The LGA also believes that upload speed should be a key measure of performance along with download speed and be clearly advertised to customers.

Telecoms regulator Ofcom added that it is pleased the ASA has confirmed it will bring about changes to advertising practices.

A spokeswoman said reforming the system would enable broadband customers to "shop with greater confidence".

"Ofcom is concerned about the gap between advertised broadband speeds and what people actually receive," she stated.

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