July 23 2014 Latest news:

The way broadband speed is advertised needs to change in order to stop consumers being misled.

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Advertising for internet services should use a ‘typical speeds range’ rather than an ‘up to’ figure to more fully and clearly explain the speed available, according to Ofcom.

A big part of the problem is that average download speeds remain less than half of ‘up to’ speeds advertised by some internet service providers, particularly for broadband delivered via a phone line.

The latest Ofcom research has shown that the average broadband speed in November/December 2010 was 6.2Mb/s. At 45pc, this is less than half of the average advertised speed of 13.8Mb/s.

The findings come as Ofcom submits its response to the current Committee for Advertising Practice (CAP) and Broadcast Committee for Advertising Practice (BCAP) consultation on broadband speeds advertising.

Ofcom has recommended that the typical speeds range figure must have at least equal prominence to any maximum ‘up to’ speed, and that a maximum speed must be used only if it is actually achievable in practice by a material number of consumers.

Reacting to the Ofcom call, Michael Phillips, product director for Broadbandchoices.co.uk, said: “Our own independent consumer research has been unequivocal in highlighting that broadband speeds are a major source of dissatisfaction for UK broadband customers and our 2011 customer survey indicates that year-on-year satisfaction is down for the third year running.

“This is disappointing considering providers continue to market their services on speed-led messaging.

“Broadbandchoices has been pushing for ‘typical speeds’ to be made the gold standard for speed measurement since 2007 - in the same way that banks use ‘typical APR’ percentages.

“To date, consumers have effectively been misled by broadband providers’ claims of what speeds are technically feasible compared to what they will receive in the real world.”

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has responsibility for broadband advertising in the UK and last year asked the CAP and BCAP, the committees which set advertising standards, to conduct a review of the advice provided to internet service providers on advertising practices.

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