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Are broadband ads a ‘complete and utter joke’?

Snail on cable

In a new development for our Broadband Speed Guaranteed campaign, two MPs have come out to criticise misleading broadband ads. Do you agree with what they have to say?

On Wednesday last week, culture minister Ed Vaizey MP told a House of Commons Committee that he thought the current rules on broadband advertising were ‘a complete and utter joke’. Here’s what he said:

‘It’s ridiculous. The idea that if you can deliver to 10% of houses the broadband speeds you are advertising on a large billboard and get away with it seems to be a complete and utter joke, and I have told that to [the ASA’s] face.’

Ed Vaizey didn’t stop there. He continued:

‘It is good to have independent regulators. But I also feel as a politician and minister in this space I want to have the opportunity to express my frustrations. I am frustrated.

‘The way broadband speeds are advertised are misleading and I’d like to see them changed. I’ve made my views clear and the ASA will be aware of my concerns.’

Broadband providers are failing

And then there was Grant Shapps MP, who on Friday spoke on Radio 4’s Today programme. He too criticised broadband providers and the Advertising Standards Authority for failing to act on misleading broadband adverts, saying:

‘Internet service providers are failing to provide anything like the speeds they are advertising. Rather than one in ten, it should be nine in ten people receive the speeds. You should be able to leave the contract and if we can’t get the internet service providers, or indeed the regulators, to do that, then parliament will need to act.’

A spokesman for the ASA said in response to Grant Shapps:

‘Our position on broadband speed claims in ads is based on extensive work undertaken in recent years, including a full public consultation on new guidance. We are an independent, evidence-based regulator and that underpins our regulation.

‘We are, however, aware of concerns about this issue and we are carefully considering if there is further work we can do on the matter.’

Here at Which?, we think that Ed and Grant are right. And more than 100,000 people back us. We’re calling for the ASA to change its 10% rule – broadband ads should show the speeds the majority of their customers will get. Not just 10% of them. And we also want it to be quicker and easier for customers to get compensation if they don’t get the speeds they’re promised.

Moving forwards

We’ve had some wins on this already, with Virgin Media and SSE both backing our campaign. And then Ofcom launched a Broadband Code of Conduct here at Which? UK, which included a right for you to exit your broadband contract without penalty if you don’t get what you were promised when signed up. Ofcom is also consulting on automatic compensation for telecoms customers.

But we know there’s more to do, so it’s great to hear MPs so strongly backing what we’ve been saying over the years. What do you think? Do you agree with Ed and Grant?

I’d also love to see what percentage of customers you think should be achieving a headline speeds before a broadband provider can then advertise that speed. Please vote for what you think’s reasonable in the poll below.

When a broadband provider advertises an *up to* speed, what is the minimum percentage of customers this speed should apply to?

Only 100% of customers (37%, 574 Votes)

90% of customers (32%, 494 Votes)

80% of customers (12%, 179 Votes)

70% of customers (7%, 110 Votes)

Under 10% of customers (4%, 64 Votes)

50% of customers (3%, 39 Votes)

10% of customers (2%, 32 Votes)

60% of customers (2%, 30 Votes)

30% of customers (1%, 8 Votes)

40% of customers (0%, 3 Votes)

20% of customers (0%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,536

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Is it just me but when I see Are broadband ads a ‘complete and utter joke’? I keep seeing Are broadband ads a ‘complete and udder joke’?


I havnt seen it like that but I was playing on youtube one evening and mistakenly typed in udderly amazing and ended up watching a video about dairy products which interested me as dairy upsets me no end
Its wonderful what you see sometimes. . . Its even more wonderful what my fingers do and it’s obvious if I dont read it back. . . .Near ever “some” ends up soem


Could be the slow broadband putting it all back together again?


You could consider going to Specsavers, Alfa.


🙂 Ha ha !!! Been there, done that, got the t-shirt or should I say specs, but will not be going there again.

Ray says:
20 April 2016

High-speed Broadband is a joke and does not reach the farms where businesses are based. It benefitted BT more than the businesses that need proper connections. The can now sell their online TV services to more customers.

Flossy Watts says:
21 April 2016

I have heard of numerous people who have paid for unlimited and boardband speeds that BT could not provide for their particular area,. However, BT have mislead customers to think they are getting the service and paying for a service they have not received. It seems to be normal practice for BT to do this. I know we have in the past paid for a service which is unachievable in our area.

Peter Cooke says:
21 April 2016

The claims of broadband suppliers are fraudulent and they rely on the fact that their customers don’t have the means or capability to legally challenge them. When the supplier claims to provide a broadband speed between a minimum and maximum then it should at least be capable of attaining the lowest speed. Unfortunately, in most instances this is not the case. Fraud!
We also have the problem of BT having a stranglehold on the infrastructure, a monopoly that should be broken up to allow for competition.