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New rules on advertising broadband speeds look set to be introduced by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) next year.

Providers are currently allowed to advertise broadband speeds if they are available to 10% of their customers.

However, the ASA is concerned that this could potentially mislead people, with the majority of customers possibly not getting the speeds they expected.

The call for change comes in the wake of research carried out by GfK on the watchdog's behalf has found that levels of knowledge and understanding of broadband speeds varies significantly among consumers.

The study also revealed that while speed is an important consideration for most people who are choosing between providers, many are unclear as to what the headline speed in an advertisement means for them and what speed they would be likely to achieve.

Most significantly, the ASA's survey indicated that despite this uncertainty, most consumers believe it is likely they will get a speed at or close to the headline speed claim, when in reality this will probably not be the case.

The ASA has therefore confirmed that the guidance on broadband speed advertising will be reviewed, with new rules being implemented in 2017.

"Making sure ads don’t mislead is at the heart of what we do," said Guy Parker, Chief Executive of the watchdog.

"We’ve taken action this year to tackle confusing broadband pricing, to the benefit of consumers.  

"Our new research indicates that speed claims in ads contribute to consumers’ expectations of the broadband speeds they’ll receive, but their expectations are not being met. That needs to change.” 

This comes after the Local Government Association argued that broadband providers are pushing headline figures that do not reflect the experiences of most users, in particular people in rural areas.

The body has suggested that the rules be altered so broadband providers can only 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.

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