Our new research shows just how important speed is to you when choosing a broadband deal. So why can’t we trust the speeds that are advertised?
A few months ago I moved into a new flat. That first week, surrounded by boxes and sitting on my living room floor, I had a list of priorities I had to get done asap. Put the bed together, get the Billy Bookcase built, buy a curtain rail, that sort of thing.
And top of the list was getting all my utilities and services set up – those essentials we need to get on with modern life. Electricity, check. Water, check. Council tax, check. Rent, check.
And broadband. Check.
Because let’s face it – today, most people in the UK would call internet access an essential. In fact I used mobile data to set up all the other services, because it’s nearly impossible to get it done quickly and efficiently over the phone.
So, how to find a good broadband package?
Broadband speed and price
I looked at a bunch of ads and broadband packages on price comparison websites. I wanted a reasonably fast connection at a reasonable price. And I found one that promised ‘up to 17Mb’ for a standard broadband package for about twenty quid a month, including line rental. Not bad, so I went for that one.
Speed and price were most important to me and our latest research has found this is true for most people. Speed definitely matters. More than two thirds of people we asked ranked it as the first or second most important factor in choosing their deal. That’s ahead of price, brand or contract length.
We also found out that the more that people believed they would get the advertised speed, the more important a factor speed was in their choice.
The problem is that, as things stand, advertisers can make some pretty wild claims about broadband speed. They’re allowed to quote one (tack on the phrase ‘up to’ in front of it) and that’s OK as long as 10% of customers can achieve those speeds.
But it’s not really OK is it? What it means is that you have no real idea if you’ll actually get that advertised speed, or anything close to it, until you actually get a specific quote once you’re already on the phone talking to that provider and well on your way to parting with your money.
This is why we’ve been campaigning for more accurate and honest ads from broadband providers, and why we want the Advertising Standards Authority to do more to make broadband companies provide customers with accurate claims upfront in their ads.
We welcome the ASA’s recent announcement that it’s now researching the importance of speed in customer choices of provider, and looking again at how important speed is. Our research shows that speed matters when picking your broadband package.
Now we wait for the ASA to announce its findings at the start of the autumn, and we hope that our research helps them take note and realise more has to be done to make broadband ads more decent, honest, and fair for consumers.
So how about you, how important is broadband speed to you? Do you know if your broadband gets the speed that was advertised to you?