Tomorrow, new rules from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) come into force addressing unrealistic speed claims that have plagued the advertising landscape for years. Will they make a difference?
Last week we released new research showing British households are paying for broadband services that are, on average, 51% slower than advertised. This unfortunately wasn’t a particularly shocking finding for us. In fact we’ve been talking about this since 2014 when we launched our Broadband Speed Guaranteed campaign – calling for a fairer way to advertise speeds to customers.
The ASA listened to us and went out to consult on the guidelines that were in place. Did you know that, under the rules that go out the window today, providers were able to advertise an “up to” speed, so long as one in 10 of their customers were able to achieve it?
We were thrilled when the ASA ruling followed Which?’s recommendation – that speed claims used in advertisements should be available to at least 50% of customers at peak times.
But Which? – why not 100%!? I hear you cry. It’s a good point, but internet connections can’t be that predictable; anything from the weather, to the amount of people tuning into Netflix at the same time can affect the speed you’re getting. That’s why the inclusion of peak time (which Ofcom measures as between 8-10pm) is very important. It’s no use being able to hit your advertised speed at 5am.
When the ASA announced the changes back in November they gave providers a 6 month window to implement them which has led us to today. After campaigning on this for over four years it feels like it has been a long time coming. We will be watching with interest to see what changes this makes to the broadband landscape.
An important step
While this ruling is a welcome one for fairness and transparency, it won’t of course change the service people are getting when signed up. That’s why our Fix Bad Broadband campaign will continue to push to improve services and access for all. But we are proud to have campaigned with the 125,000 people who supported the campaign to make this change happen.
Providers must now ensure they are compliant with the new rules, and consumers should be able to sign up to broadband packages with more trust in what they’ll be able to get. Personally, I’ll be interested to see whether the advertising landscape shifts as a result. Will we, for example, start seeing advertisements using speeds less, favouring other measures instead? Time will tell.
We want to hear from you. Do you think today’s changes lead to consumers being able to trust their providers to deliver connections as advertised? And were you aware of how little chance you had of achieving the advertised speed when you signed up?