When it comes to broadband speed advertising, the two magic words you’ll see time and again are ‘up to’. New guidelines are in to stop misleading advertising – but do you think they’re strict enough?
For years, these two words have been cannily used by internet service providers to cover the likelihood that you might never be able to properly enjoy the maximum broadband speeds their packages offer.
After all, if your internet service provider (ISP) is advertising broadband speeds of ‘up to 20Mbps’, they’re not strictly in the wrong if your connection never fully reaches the maximum possible speed.
Are new advertising guidelines ‘up to’ scratch?
On 1 April, new guidance around broadband advertising was brought in by the Committee of Advertising Practice and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice. These guidelines state that for an ISP to advertise an ‘up to’ broadband speed, this speed must be achievable for at least 10% of its customers.
If, like me, you’re left feeling sorry for the remaining 90%, you’re not alone.
A survey of 1,074 Brits carried out by thinkbroadband.com found that 72% of respondents didn’t support these new guidelines. Some 34% felt that claimed ‘up to’ speeds should be achievable for at least half of a provider’s customers, not just one in ten of them.
Fed up with sluggish broadband?
And in our own survey of 1,006 Which? members, an overwhelming 89% told us that they had experienced unsatisfactory broadband speeds despite paying for higher ‘up to’ speeds. Commenter Kev summed up the mood on a previous broadband Conversation:
‘Why do we accept this discrepancy? I pay for “up to 24Mbps” and in reality get about 8 Mbps. If I bought a car with an advertised top speed of 100mph and found it wouldn’t go any faster than 30mph I’m sure there’d be grounds for legal proceedings for the goods not being as described.’
So, it seems like the majority of UK broadband users aren’t pointing to the skies like Usain Bolt to celebrate their speedy connections. So is it good enough for ISPs to get away with advertised ‘up to’ speeds that cater only to the lucky 10%?