/ Technology

Superfast broadband customers shouldn’t be stuck in slow lane

Fibre broadband network concept

Were you promised superfast broadband, but find your internet crawls along? In this guest post Tom Mockridge, Virgin Media’s Chief Executive Officer, calls for greater clarity on advertising speeds.

Broadband speed and the capacity that it delivers, matters. We’ve seen customers’ data use grow at around 60% every year which, if the trend continues, will be 10,000% higher in ten years.

The simple fact is this. When you sign up to a new broadband provider, the speed it claims to deliver is one of the main criteria you will use.

The higher the advertised speed, the more you will be able to make of the service you are paying for. At least, that’s the logic.

The reality is that to meet the rules set by the advertising watchdogs, the broadband speeds claimed in advertising need only be available to 10% of customers.

Sure, there are technical issues why you might not be able to access the top speed all the time – they affect every provider at one time or another and we all work hard to fix them quickly. But, service isn’t the issue Which? is addressing here, it’s speed.

Today, you can sign-up for a so-called superfast connection with some big-name ISPs only to find you probably never would have been able to get those speeds in the first place.

Outdated rules

Ofcom determines 30Mbps as the slowest broadband speed that can be classed as superfast. Our entry-level speed is 50Mbps and any of our customers can access ultrafast broadband speeds of 152Mbps.

Is it right for customers that a 30Mbps services should be sold under the same name as a service that goes five times quicker? Times have changed since the advertising watchdogs set their rules in 2011. It’s time to raise the bar.

Broadband marks its fifteenth birthday this year. With age comes responsibility and it’s time for the industry to work with Which?, Ofcom and the advertising watchdogs to be clearer when advertising broadband speeds.

In the long term, this 10% rule does nobody any favours. If advertising claims superfast broadband speeds, those speeds should be available to the many not the few.

I’m backing the Which? campaign today and will be writing to the advertising watchdogs and Ofcom to urge it to join us in raising the bar.

This is a guest contribution by Tom Mockridge, of Virgin Media. All opinions expressed here are Tom’s own, not necessarily those of Which?

Carole Worthy says:
15 July 2015

I need broadband because my office is here in Normans Bay. However even though I have the ‘new super fast system’ my download speed was a ‘mega’ 4.8 and my upload speed was a paltry 0.5 this evening at 7pm . I have had quotes from various companies, who all promise great things but when I pin them down for guaranteed speeds they are all about the same because they all come through the same physical system. It is all smoke and mirrors and actually lies and misrepresentation which if I was doing in my business I would be accused of FRAUD.


In London I have one gigabit broadband (downstream and upstream) via fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) – truly ultrafast or superfast. My case should be the norm and not the exception. The UK needs to move away from archaic copper cables (which includes FTTC or fibre-to-the-cabinet) so that FTTP becomes universal. This has already happened in countries like South Korea. Why should the UK remain in the slow lane?



It doesn’t matter what 10% of customers get, or even 90%. I want a reliable estimate of what I am likely to get in my premises. Whilst adverts can carry the sort of maximum speed the service is capable of they should tell customers exactly how to get an estimate relevant to themselves. I can get that with a copper service; can I get that with a fibre service as well?


Has any other person had problems with Talk Talk ? I seriously need to talk to a member of senior managment before I go crazy and rip the whole system from the sockets ..please does any one have a number where I can talk to someone who can make decisions


Reference the Talk talk problem would welcome any constructive info thanks


I agree with the latest news that broadband @ 50mb is more effective than speeds of 30. As a virgin media customer the increase of their basic broadband speed has made a great difference of my streaming availability. Thanks VM.

Beachman says:
16 July 2015

The comments made by Tom Mockridge, Virgin Media’s Chief Executive Officer are commendable. As soon as their service is available in my area I will be switching to Virgin.
Honest companies deserve loyal following. BT speed promises made to me are totally unrealistic and misleading.

Andy Houghton says:
16 July 2015

I own a Corporate Video production Company here in Blackpool. After years of campaigning and thanks to Superfast Lancashire – last year we finally had the area supplied with Fibre to the Cabinet by BT.

For me, having fast data speeds enables me to move large HD video files around to my clients without the need for heavy compression.

Therefore we opted for the best BT could offer – Infinity 2 with quotations of “Up to 79Mbps” or we could have gone for Infinity 1 at a cheaper price with speeds Up to 35Mbps”.

Infinity 2 gives us speeds no more than 50Mbps and this is often reduced to just 35Mbps throughout the day. Yet BT continue to charge us for the higher speeds.

We know we cannot move anywhere even to another supplier as all of them use the BT Network except for Virgin Media who we don’t have in our well populated area..

BT engineers told me that although the exchange is less than three quarters of a mile away from me, the nearest cabinet is some distance from my studio so the signal has to travel out on copper and back again on fibre, so before they invest in installing more fibre cabinets to the area, people and businesses suffer as they have only installed the bare minimum.

Virgin Media I believe is now looking at the North Shore Area here in Blackpool, the sooner the better for me, I look forward to getting decent speeds and independent of the BT Network.