Ofcom revealed the results of its latest broadband speed test this week and although average broadband speeds have increased, advertised ‘up to’ speeds are more misleading than ever before.
But let’s start with the positive stuff first – average broadband speeds in the UK have gone up by 10% over the last six months. The average speed in May 2011 was 6.8Mpbs, up from 6.2Mbps at the end of last year. Now that is encouraging news.
It might have something to do with the fact that nearly half of residential customers are now on a broadband package advertised as ‘up to’ 10Mbps. In April 2009, only 8% of customers were on such broadband deals. So speed is clearly a priority.
However, this is where one of the problems in the broadband industry lies.
Advertised speeds still a fantasy
Ofcom’s not so good news is that the gap between actual speeds and advertised ‘up to’ speeds has grown.
It found that the average advertised speed in May 2011 was 15Mbps. If you compare this to the average actual speed (6.8Mbps), you’ll see that something is amiss. Even more worrying is that the gap has increased since the research was last carried out six months ago.
The advertising of ‘up to’ speeds by broadband providers is something we’ve been keeping an eye on for some time. Back in February we responded to an ASA review of broadband advertising claims.
Ultimately, the words ‘up to’ can be helpful, but only if a certain proportion of customers can actually achieve it. Nevertheless, headline speeds should be accompanied by a typical speed range which reflects the range of realistically available speeds.
News on a decision this review is expected in the early autumn, but in the meantime it looks like we’ll have to put up with misleading ‘up to’ broadband speeds for some time to come. Are you also fed up with fantastical ‘up to’ broadband ads?