Many people are confused by broadband adverts and the speeds they promote. An even bigger problem is that only 10% of people may actually get those speeds. Do you think this is fair?
Like a lot of folk, when looking to set up my broadband I find it difficult to cut through the jargon to decipher what I actually need. I know I like watching Netflix when I get in from work but I don’t know how that translates to the speed I require.
While this is a barrier to feeling empowered as a consumer, an even bigger obstacle can loom large and it’s one we broadband customers have little control over. Until now, internet providers have been free to tell us the speeds they are offering to provide with no guarantee we will actually be able to get them.
Current guidance from the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) states that providers can advertise a broadband speed with ‘up to’ if only 10% of customers in the area can achieve it. We believe this isn’t fair and as such have been working to challenge this through our Broadband Speed Guaranteed campaign.
We want the majority of customers to get the speeds promised in ads, not just 10%.
A Which? win
Back in November 2016, the ASA and Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) agreed with us that advertised speeds can mislead customers. This was welcome news. Furthermore, we worked hard to influence the Digital Economy Act which introduces a Universal Speed Obligation (USO), guaranteeing every single customer a minimum speed.
Today we’ve secured a milestone as the ASA and CAP have opened a consultation on speed claims in broadband advertising. We hope this will lead to a change in guidance that will require providers to give consumers a more transparent deal.
There are four options being considered for introduction across a range of different areas including a median download speed (available to at least 50% of consumers) as well as advertising a range of download speeds measured at peak time or over 24 hours.
Do you receive the broadband speeds advertised by your provider?
No (41%, 2,118 Votes)
Almost (25%, 1,281 Votes)
Some way off (24%, 1,220 Votes)
Yes (11%, 546 Votes)
Total Voters: 5,165
Keeping the pressure on
We think it’s vital the ASA does not roll back after agreeing with us on misleading speeds. The outcome of this consultation therefore must propose significant change to help customers get the speeds they’re promised. After all, recent research by Which? found that 12.5 million households in the UK are frustrated with bad broadband services.
What do you think about advertising requirements for broadband providers? Did an advertised speed inform a purchase that left you disappointed? Have you felt misled by provider advertisements? Let us know what you think.
If you’re not sure what speed you’re getting, you can use our free broadband speed checker, which allows you to test performance, get advice, and complain about slow speeds.