/ Technology

Win! Broadband providers are dropping exaggerated ‘up to’ speed claims

In a Which? campaign win, broadband companies are being forced to drop the unrealistic up to speeds they advertise following rule changes.

For too long, many consumers have been taking out broadband deals but getting speeds much slower than were advertised to them. But our latest research shows that’s now changing.

Previously, suppliers were able to advertise broadband deals which claimed ‘up to’ speeds that only one in 10 customers would ever reach.

But after our sustained campaigning, pressure from our supporters and rule changes from the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) in May, some suppliers have now reduced advertised broadband speeds by as much as 41%.

New rules

The new advertising rules mean that at least half of customers must now be able to get an advertised average speed, even during peak times (8-10pm).

We’d been calling for these vital new guidelines to be introduced since 2013 through our Broadband Speed Guaranteed campaign.

We’ve now found that 11 out of 12 major suppliers have had to cut the advertised speed of some of their deals by an average 15%.

BT, EE, John Lewis Broadband, Plusnet, Sky, Zen Internet, Post Office, SSE, TalkTalk and Utility Warehouse previously advertised their standard (ADSL) broadband deals as ‘up to 17Mbps’. The new advertised speed is now more than a third lower at 10Mbps or 11Mbps.

TalkTalk has completely dropped advertising speed claims from most of its deals. While Vodafone has even changed the name of some of its deals: Fibre 38 and Fibre 76 are now Superfast 1 and Superfast 2.

And only Virgin Media’s advertised speeds have gone up since the change.

What’s next?

Alex Neill, our Managing Director of Home Services, said:

“Customers will now have a much clearer idea of the speeds that can be achieved when they are shopping around for broadband – even though their broadband won’t get any faster.

“With the change in advertising rules now showing the true landscape of broadband speeds, the Government must press ahead with its crucial plans to increase full-fibre availability and deliver the service that broadband customers need, without it costing them the earth.”

Have you bought a broadband package that hasn’t lived up to the speeds advertised? Have you noticed a change in how providers are advertising speeds?


Three mobile sim only package giving me 1.2mbps download speed. Surely this cannot justify making me pay out a 18 month contract?

That also sounds bad to me. Many sim only contracts operate on the basis of a rolling contract, with a notice period of one month.

There was a time when signing up for a 12 month notice period gave slightly less expensive rates.

That said, i recently switched from an O2 sim only contact to giffgaff payg and I’m getting a much better deal on the latter.

Derek, have you noticed a drop in signal at all on giffgaff? We have one phone on giffgaff and an old one on o2. The old o2 phone always gets the better signal so I don’t know whether it is the phones or giffgaff that gets a reduced signal. As giffgaff uses the o2 network, you would think we should get the same signal but I have wondered…..

alfa, I’ve not noticed any problems myself.

Must be the phone then which is surprising seeing as it is at least 5 years newer. We don’t have a good signal at home so more calls are made on the old o2 phone and I have held back transferring it to giffgaff.

Quite often, I think older phones do have better performance in areas with poor signal.

But you could always (temporarily) swap your two sim cards around, to see if that makes any difference.

Several years ago, I used to find that I got slower internet access with giffgaff that with O2, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem for me any more.

The phones use different size sim cards so I can’t easily swap them.

Nigel says:
3 March 2020

You can get adapters for the smaller sims permitting use in older phones

Nigel says:
3 March 2020

0.7 Mbps here on the top of the South Pennines. Appreciate that it’s a lovely bit of the country but why do we get neglected for everything? We are the last house on the road to get any service beyond us there is no broadband capability and dialup has gone so they have to use satalite!!! I don’t think it’s directly the provider it’s the infrastructure which has not been updated.

David Roberts says:
18 March 2020

I joined BT Fast Broadband and TV package i had a fault since it was set up TV GOING blank then saying BT TV is awaking every time also my mobile phone saying no WiFi signal and am sitting right by the router they have said they have fixed the problem several times and still kept on doing it i final got fed up with it now they want to charge me for the next few months for going to change provider also i am paying £10 a month for BT sports but there is no sports on with the current out break going on stay away from this company

malcolm percival says:
24 March 2020

Based on Exmoor ,Bt Customer currently, have been reporting lines lying in Hedges and Fields, around 6 spans, for about 3years, Broadband drops out frequently, have been trying to get reduced line rental for some time now, but am always told “we can’t consider anything until openreach close the matter” Catch 22 !!!!!

I live in Sixmilecross my megabyte reading is 1.4 at best. Terrible for 2020 you should be ashamed of yourselves. New providers welcome please.

[Moderator: this comment was edited to remove personal contact information. Please do not post personal contact information–either your own or those of others–as this is against the Community guidelines]

carol says:
4 June 2020

B4RN has thee fastest and up to date rural broad band in the country…was started by volunteers in North of UK

John Wells says:
6 June 2020

I’m with PlusNet. My service is dropping out every few minutes due to an intermittent fault. This means that when I report the fault PlusNet say they either can not detect it or they can detect it due to it being intermittent. The infrastructure provider is Open Reach. So PlusNet call open reach who come out to check it. When they check it they may, or may not find a “fault”. It’s intermittent. They know the cable is damaged. They’ve just charged £65 to not fix it. To change supplier I will have to use a non Open reach supplier. Which limits my options.
Where do go from here? PlusNet are happy to pass on the Open reach charge, take their cut from that, but not get a grip of their infrastructure supplier. Of course Open reach won’t speak to me. I have to do it through PlusNet. Neither PlusNet, or Open reach have any desire to fix the fault, but are happy to take my money each month plus the £65 for not fixing the equipment, each time I raise it with them. How do I get to talk to the Open reach, or PlusNet directors to get some answers?

Hi John – I suggest you file a complaint with Plusnet. I don’t understand why you should have been charged if the fault lies outside your home. Even more so if they have not repaired the problem that they have been paid to sort out.

Although Openreach should deal with this, your contract is with Plusnet, so Openreach is unlikely to help.

One way of finding a contacts for senior people is to use this website: https://www.ceoemail.com
Don’t be surprised if you just get a reply from customer services, but at least your efforts should not be wasted.

A friend has had problems with her phone line crackling badly for several months before Covid and nothing has been achieved. She acts as secretary for the local branch of an association and needs to keep in touch. Yesterday she asked us to switch to using her mobile number for the foreseeable future.

Is it legal for BT to disallow me to keep my @btconnect email address if I leave them for another provider, unless I pay them a huge amount per year, please?