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Matt Warman MP: ‘Broadband speed advertising rules need to change’

slow broadband speed

The Which? campaign helped bring the issue of advertised broadband speeds to the ASA’s attention. Last week, guest Matt Warman MP led a Parliamentary debate calling for fairer advertising rules.

When it comes to broadband, just 10% of people who sign up for a service have to receive the advertised speed.

I don’t think that can be right – and neither, it would seem after a debate in Parliament, does anybody else in the House of Commons.

From the Digital Minister, Matt Hancock, to Labour and the SNP, there was universal agreement that at least a majority of people should get what it says on the tin.

In what other walk of life would it be acceptable to not get this?

However, the rules, in this case, are not set by Parliament.

It’s for advertising regulators to enforce rules, which they are currently consulting on changing.

Getting the message across

In calling this debate last week, I sought to let the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) hear loud and clear from all parties that MPs’ view – and those of many of our constituents – were clear.

In the same debate, I also made a second request, and again it was one with which nobody disagreed: if a broadband service is to be advertised as ‘fibre’, it should be full fibre, rather than a mix of super-fast fibre and super-slow copper.

I hope that this will not only make it clear to people what they are paying for, but, in the highly competitive world of broadband advertising, encourage companies to invest in rolling out the fibre networks that will really deliver the next generation of high-speed networks.

These networks are needed not only for shopping and to use the likes of iPlayer, but also for the next generation of connected cars and domestic appliances, dubbed the ‘internet of things’.

Changing the rules

The government has committed to a universal broadband service that will give everyone access to a minimum speed of 10Mbps by 2020.

This is a laudable aim, but it will be undermined if advertisers are still allowed to claim one thing and deliver another.

The ASA is currently consulting on changes to these rules.

I know Which? has been campaigning on this and, alongside its supporters, was instrumental in bringing the issue of advertised broadband speeds to the ASA’a attention.

To get your voice heard, either sign the Which? petition, write to your MP, or even the ASA itself.

The sooner the rules are changed, the better.

This is a guest contribution by Matt Warman, MP for Boston and Skegness. All views expressed here are his own, not necessarily those shared by Which?

Does your broadband run slower than the advertised speed? Is the proposed universal speed of 10Mbps enough?


As I understand it the ASA investigated broadband speed claims and perceptions and in Nov ’16 said: “These findings underpin our call for a change to the way broadband speed claims are advertised to ensure consumers are not misled, and the decision by CAP (Committees of Advertising Practice ) , also announced today, to review its guidance to advertisers on broadband speed claims. CAP will report publicly in spring 2017.”

Should we see the CAP proposals before we start to raise another debate – or has it been published?

This comment was removed at the request of the user

The pressure is certainly on the companies to stop misleading customers. Last October the Advertising Standards Authority required advertising to be changed in order to:
– Show all-inclusive up-front and monthly costs; no more separating out line rental
– Give greater prominence to the contract length and any post-discount pricing
– Give greater prominence to up-front costs (such as delivery fee, activation fee, installation fee)

On behalf of ASA, CAP will report on advertising of broadband speeds this spring: https://www.asa.org.uk/news/asa-calls-for-a-change-in-the-advertising-of-broadband-speed-claims.html

I would like to see an end to ‘up to’ speed claims, focusing instead on a realistic speed range for the premises. After pressure, my local ISP did this and very rarely was my speed outside the range. Now I’m on FTTP fibre broadband, my speed is generally a little above the 50Mbps I pay for.

We need more honesty in advertising.

Can anyone tell me who thought a 10% limit was OK in the first place. OR is it just a case of companies lobbying getting their own way again ? At the very least it should be 51% or if was a company 50.001%.
But since its been 10% for so long I’d like to see a target of 75% swing it back in favour of the cash-cow for once

Ian Powell says:
17 March 2017

When you purchase a product or service and it falls below the providers own quality, you should be able to seek immediate redress. Advertise a product/service, fall below the guaranteed level to provide that and forfeit your right to sell that service!

My speed is “up to” 8mbps but frequently I can’t even get to whole figures! Today my download is 3.4 and my upload a “massive” 0.71!!!

As Duncan pointed out, in the absence of FTTP, available speeds are limited by the length of the copper wires used. Hence comparing different “up to” offers is likely to be a waste of time for many FTTC customers.

I’m sure the petrol sold by my local BP garage is good for speeds “up to 200mph” but I know it won’t be achieving that in my 1400cc Nissan Note.