Imagine walking into a pub this weekend ordering a pint and the barman saying he’ll pour you ‘up to’ a full pint. Or buying train tickets from London to Newcastle – that might only take you to York or Doncaster.
Or your boss telling you that this month she’ll pay you up to 10% of your normal salary. OK… well, you get the picture.
It sounds crazy of course but actually this is the kind of experience most of us face with our broadband – we’re all living in ‘up to’ land.
What our new research reveals about broadband speeds
Our latest research reveals the full extent of the problem – a whopping 15.4 million UK homes are putting up with speeds that don’t actually match those they were initially promised.
So 74% of households with fixed broadband connections are paying for packages with advertised speeds they don’t get. It gets worse when you move out of cities. Astonishingly, 98% of rural homes typically don’t get the headline advertised speed.
For example, we found that only 4% of customers on TalkTalk’s 17Mbps package, and just 1% of people on BT and Plusnet’s 76Mbps deals, are getting the top advertised speeds.
We know speed matters. Nine in 10 of you have told us it’s an important factor in how you choose your broadband provider. It’s also how providers describe and categorise their own services. But guidelines state that advertised ‘up-to’ speeds only need to be available to 10% of customers. Only 10%!
Your experiences of ‘up to’ broadband speeds
Many of you have shared your frustrations about slow broadband speeds. For example, Julia Ortmans told us:
‘Our broadband speed in North Norfolk is about 1.5Mbps. Sometimes slower – if you can imagine. It’s like living in a third world country that has just introduced computers. Occasionally if I am up at 3am it gets to nearly 2Mbps.’
And Bert said:
‘We live in the ‘sticks’ and have been totally forgotten by all providers. Hopeless and yet they still charge us for full speed.’
What we want to see
Last week we reported on how Ofcom planned to make it easier for you to switch your broadband provider if you’re not getting the speed advertised on your contract. We welcome this, but we also want the rules changed so that providers are only allowed to advertise speeds the majority of their customers can receive.
Help us increase the pressure by sending a message to advertising watchdogs – tell them what you think about misleading speed claims in broadband ads.
Have you chosen a broadband package based on an advertised speed – then found you can’t achieve it?
[UPDATE 15 APRIL 2016] – Culture minister Ed Vaizey has said that broadband speed advertising rules are a ‘complete and utter joke’.
Ed Vaizey told the House of Commons culture, media and sport select committee:
‘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.
‘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.’