/ 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?

matthew says:
17 August 2018

my sky broad band download is 4.3 , the upload is 0.6, is this good or bad ?

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Keith Paterson says:
18 August 2018

That is a particularly slow upload speed which will make even emailing photographs a bit of a pain. But upload is always a fraction of download. On this test with a connected PC, using virgin I got over 100 mb/ s download and just 5 mb/ s upload. I only pay for the minimum speed Virgin offers

Pretty Poor

ryan says:
31 August 2018

this wifi is amazing for fortnite

This seems to be a new way around the broadband speed falsity.
We have recently started a contract with Utility Warehouse (a Best Buy Which rated ISP provider). They promised speeds of 40-60MBs.
In reality, via their router provided, we get 14-17MBps.
According to Utility Warehouse, and I have no reason not to believe them, we are getting that to our property.
But… their standard router provided, that Which rates as pretty poor, is in fact so poor that to get any kind of decent speed you are forced to upgrade to their better router. When I plugged in an old BT HuB5 (that seems to only connect to my laptop and now to no other device after I cancelled my BT contract, but thats another story) I immediately got speeds of 36MBps. Since this router doesn’t work with any other device I was forced to upgrade to Utility Warehouse better router at £25.50 to get the speed promised to me, since

It is not possible to actually get near their promised speed using wifi with the equipment they provided.
Utility Warehouse may still be a good provider, but I felt duped into paying for their better router, because without it, the speeds are very poor.
If they had included this in the original order and been upfront that with the equipment provided you get half the promised speed I wouldn’t have felt conned into upgrading my router.

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I recently (July 2018) moved from a 32Mbps BT broadband to Vodafone Superfast 2 (notionally 76Mbps). VF guaranteed minimum download speed was 55Mbps. According to the VF supplied App I am getting a sync speed of 53 – 59 Mbps at any time of the day/night – using the Which broadband speed check I actually get (during the day) about 45 – 50Mbps. However, during the evening ‘peak’ this dramatically drops to between 4 and 9 Mbps. Is this acceptable? At times the connection is so slow my email server times out!!! (In order to achieve the guaranteed sync speed Openreach have had to reroute and reposition the main socket alongside the VF router by installing a new line from their box in the garden (at my expense).)

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Ian, as Duncan says, if VF have guaranteed low get 55Mbps (or more) and your speed is dropping to 4Mbps at times, they’re clearly failing deliver what you contracted them to do.

If you line will run at 59Mbps sometimes and only 4Mbps at others, then I doubt that the problem has anything to do with your wiring or with Openreach’s connection to your house.

I’d guess that VF have oversold their actual capacity over Openreach’s network. At least in Swindon (if not elsewhere) Virgin used to do that too…

If further complaints to VF don’t solve your problems, you may need to cancel their contract and try another supplier.

Many thanks for your very helpful comments. I will have another “discussion” with VF tomorrow so attempt to progress this. Interestingly a friend in the same village (same BT exchange but different street cabinet) is very pleased with his VF broadband.

Thank you. Initially the actual wiring in the house was causing a problem. Some of it was 50+ years old and had been extended and rerouted from the master socket to the extension where the router was located. VF organised Openreach to check out the circuit and discovered the sync speed at the master socket was 50 Mbps and at the extension where the router was located had dropped to 35 Mbps. Openreach ran a new cable from the pole in the garden and installed a replacement master socket (filtered socket – no external filters required anywhere in the house) where the router is located replacing the original master socket with a standard Openreach normal socket. The new sync speed is varies between 53 and 59 Mbps)

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Thanks for following this up. I have been in touch with my provider. The fibre connection has now been in place for just under a week, so I wait to see what happens.

My provider has allocated a specific person for me to deal with, so as a first stage I will take any questions up with that person.

After almost 6 months of complaining, engineer visits, fixes (failed) I have given up on my fixed line. I managed to get John Lewis to cancel the contract without penalty and have installed a 4G system. Despite being right on the edge of 4G and 3G coverage with poor coverage on my iPhone, I am now getting a consistent 10 Mbps down and 2 Mbps up, and that’s before I fit an external antenna.
Packages for data are now much more affordable and I’m managed to get UNLIMITED data for £25 a month! I bargain I think!

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Given the relative ease of deploying technologies like this and wimax I do wonder what OpenReach are spending all those billions of Govt. money (our money) on…

I bet small countries like Monaco can easily manage 100% coverage for land line broadband 😀

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I couldn’t find any coverage data for Monaco, but given its small size, I bet there’s nowhere that buildings cannot have landline connections. (And, btw, the way, there are other small countries too, so I think I correctly exposed the fallacy of your previous (rhetorical?) claim.)

Mobile broadband would obviously exist too, not least for use by smart phones.

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Derek and Duncan, let’s try and keep this discussion civil, please. Thanks!

Sorry Oscar.

Duncan – sorry – I thought you were talking about the possibility for providing land-line coverage to 100% of the customers in any country and not the resulting market segmentation that you’d have alongside other systems, where available.

I’d agree with you that, under free market systems, I’d be very surprised if there would ever be a country where only a single means of broadband were provided.

That said, I thought it was relevant to mention mobile broadband because the OP mentioned 4G – i.e. mobile broadband – at the outset of the thread – as his alternative to broadband via the land-lines in his area.

On other threads, I’d also commented previously that, for at least some of those who live in densely populated areas, with good 4G or 5G (etc.) coverage, all other forms of broadband may soon become irrelevant and I think the OP’s comments bear that out. After all, if you can take your broadband everywhere you go via your mobile, why bother having an additional connection just at home?

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I agree with you that, under free market systems, I’d be very surprised if there would ever be a country where only a single means of broadband were provided.

doing as little work as possible you must have seen their vans all parked together with all the workers ( joke ) drinking tea and scratching their bums doing as little as possible and if you need them urgently forget it best in the land for promises no chance of doing any kind of manual labour

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graham says:
14 November 2018

I am at the end of an 18 month contract with BT. I was offered a ‘free’ upgrade to 67 mb superfast broadband for this contract. My contract ends on 22 nov 18. I was thinking that I don’t need such fast download speed now as less users in house. I also checked my download speed at the router and I got 35 mb. I checked the BT website for new customers to see what they offer. I put in my address and BT only offer super fast at 50MB and 36MB as it states I can only get speeds up to 40MB. Spoke to BT about renewing and they wouldn’t offer either of these options, I had to stay at 67MB even though it is not achievable! All they would say is that these options may be available on 22 nov the last day of my contract. I don’t see why I should pay more for an option that I won’t get. I have complained but don’t hold out much hope as it is probably the computer systems making the decisions!

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We have broadband from BT and used to get 35Mbs download. BT offered a personal deal in the form of an upgraded service based on fibre-optics for a small increase in our monthly payment. I checked it out and found that this was not possible at my address as there is no fibre-optic connection between the local junction box and my address. The only thing that happened was that our download speed dropped to fractionally below 27Mbs.

BT has recently again offered me an upgrade package for an extra £2 per month over 18 months. As an illustration of the deal they tell me that my current service (SUPERFAST FIBRE ! UNLIMITED) provides an average of 50Mb download speed – almost twice what I’m actually getting under that package. They describe the upgraded package as SUPERFAST FIBRE PLUS which they say offers an average 67Mbs download. However, in the smaller print it says “You should get download speeds of 25Mps to 39Mbs. I checked again with BT and they confirmed that the last link in my connection still has not been upgraded to fibre-optic. Any talk of an improved service is, therefore, totally fanciful. Moreover, what I’m told I should be getting provides a mean figure of 32 Mbs which is not far from the 35 Mbs which I used to get before they started tinkering around

Given that companies offering broadband services are now required to be more open and honest about the stark reality of what they are offering, I’m intrigued as to how a service on which they say I should get 25Mbs to 39 Mbs can be truly described as offering an average of 67 Mbs download speed. It’s my opinion that they don’t know what they’re talking about and must take us for absolute mugs.

To add insult to injury, they made me precisely the same useless upgrade offer as a special Black Friday deal!

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I am at the end of an overhead BT line connection., over three miles from the nearest exchange. I get an average of 2.5 download speed and currently 0.00 upload, (an average of 0.010.) And yet my Broadband provider insists that I pay the same rate as those in my local village who receive speeds far in excess of mine. Apparently, BT charges the same rate for the use of my extended line as others nearer the exchange. This seems quite unfair. I’d be interested to hear from others in a similar position.

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The Which speed test starts OK but then hangs at the “Completing the speedtest….” comment and does’t complete it – tried twice waiting twenty minutes at this point. Unimpressive. Suffice it to say that BT Broadband (and frankly mobile signal provision from all operators) is shocking in the commuter village where I live (Edlesborough, LU6 postcode area, in Buckinghamshire). Despite being populated by a high proportion of professional people working from home, schoolchildren and students, local businesses and tradespeople, all of whom are dependent on good broadband, speeds are generally low and, more annoyingly intermittent with multiple drop out outs of service EVERY DAY. Totally unacceptable. Absence of decent mobile signal is an even more bothersome impediment to carrying out normal personal and business related telephone activities. Again, totally unacceptable. What exactly is the regulator OFTEL for if it is not coercing telecoms operators of all types to deliver decent service everywhere in one of the world’s most advanced and wealthiest economies?

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I use John Lewis Broadband, and am 2 miles from the exchange. I have the 36Mb/s fibre service and the Which! test shows 37Mb/s. I understand that their provider is Plusnet, which is owned by BT. If this is true, perhaps Which! could investigate the reasons for the variation in customer assessments and speed tests.

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As the provider of one speed test, I’m not sure Which? would be unbiased, were it to test speed tests.

Also, I expect that different speed tests will test slightly different things and so give varying results.

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Kenny Taylor says:
24 January 2019

I have Fibre Broadband provided by TalkTalk. I’ve given up on them as my download speed is 7Mb. I know local BT guys who have told me the problem is with a fault somewhere on my street and would require digging up the pavement. Ive mentioned this to TalkTalk but they just dont listen and continue to read off their scripts like robots. I cannot contact BT openreach either because the contract is through TalkTalk and to be honest I’ve given up with them. Everything is carried out from overseas and they just cannot grasp the problem as it will not be on their scripted replies. PS i live less than a mile from the cabinet. it feels like we live in a 3rd World country.

I’m trying to use your speed checker but nothing is happening.

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I’ve contacted EE last and this weekend re Broadband Fibre. My router is a central cupboard which is no more that 10 feet away from my lounge. I was watch Luther on BBCi player and it continually dropped out. Every time I try to log on with my Surface Pro I have to run Trouble-shooter to diagnose connection problems.

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Bband contract with BT due to start 17/1. No service. Non-broadband engineer rurned up for 1st appointment on 19/1. Further appointment 24/1. No show due to booking ‘not going through’. Next appointment 30/1. Nearly a fortnight without service and no sence of hurry from BT. Customer service a real hit or miss. Usually a miss.

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I have fallen victim to Talk Talk’s lack of customer care, & wonder if someone has any advice.
My landline connection has failed, & I have been without a line now for 13 days, with no prospect of it being resolved. What can I do to by-pass T/T?

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Am with BT and upgraded from old HUB3 to new All Singing All Dancing ‘SMART HUB6’ (Connected house MASTER BOX (Have one ‘extension’ line to phone in the Workshop area).
Many speed checks gave an average download of 7 to 9 Mbs.
Had engineer visit after much hassle from a lady some ware in INDIA 🙁
He installed latest type Master Box (with built in filter I think???)
Speed the same as before.
He checked the route of my landline, and said it was from an unmanned exchange building some 2 miles away, although there is a new green cabinet only 150 yds up the lane (Rural Wiltshire here).
I suggested he (Openreach) reconnect me to it.
He said ‘Not CURRENTLY possible.

WHAT can I tell you? 🙁 🙁

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Robin Acton says:
5 February 2019

Can anyone tell me that despite purchasing a fiber optic connection from BT the fiber connection is not in my house and connected to my router .
I am currently in Saudi Arabia and have fiber optic installed which is plugged into the rear of my router and not a cat cable anywhere .
I wonder are we getting what we should.

Fibre to the cabinet is cheaper than proper fibre broadband and someone has to pay.

Cat cable is an alternative to WiFi for interconnecting routers, computers, printers, etc. It has nothing to do with the the type of broadband.

Robin, I guess your UK house has FTTC “fibre to the cabinet” not FTTP “fibre to the premises”.

I believe not all BT customers can get FTTP, see, for example:


In the UK, Virgin Media has its own network that can supply FTTP, but, again, that’s not to all locations.

Hi I have been with I talk have 4months left on contract,moved home recently,not too far away,have been told they can’t provide unlimited BB and have to upgrade to fibre which I can’t afford and don’t need…I am now being charged an early exit fee and being charged £65 for the router…I understand I have to pay early exit fee but not for the router which I can send back to them??

Jayne grisdale says:
15 February 2019

My husband and I did the test at the same time and got different results ??


Please tell us more:

What results did you get?

Did runs the tests one after another or literally at the time, i.e. concurrently?

If you actually did the latter, I’d expect that your test results would share your available line speed between your two devices (PC’s or whatever) that you used in the test.

When I do tests here, I usually get about the same result each time, but it does sometimes vary.