As part of a new crackdown, home broadband providers will have to ensure that at least 50% of customers receive the advertised internet speed at peak times. The new regulations will increase the current standard which allows providers to advertise “up to” speed as long as 10% of customers receive those speeds. The new rules will come into effect from May 23rd and will affect all major broadband providers.
The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) have vowed to tighten regulations as a result of consumer research, and complaints from consumer groups and the public, who have been calling for a change to advertising rules for some time.
A study from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) found that customers find the current rules misleading, and that very few get the level of service expected. They also find that the speed of broadband they receive tends to fall short of the expectations. Research from consumers groups has previously found that 75% of customers are paying for a level of service that they are not receiving.
The CAP said that regulations need to be made easier to understand, and that it must be made easier to consumers to compare between providers. They also said that using a 24 hour measurement will not provide accurate figures, and that speeds must be measured on peak time speeds only.
The ASA’s review also found that providers are misleading customers by using the phrase “fibre broadband” on services that use fibre-optic cables for part of the connection. The ASA has advised providers should not be describing these services as “fibre”, and that by doing so consumers are being misled into believing they will receive faster speeds than they will in reality.
CAP director Shahriar Coupal said: “There are a lot of factors that affect the broadband speed a customer is going to get in their own home, from technology to geography to how a household uses broadband. “
“While we know these factors mean some people will get significantly slower speeds than others, when it comes to broadband ads our new standards will give consumers a better understanding of the broadband speeds offered by different providers when deciding to switch providers. Following extensive research and consultation, we hope our new standards will improve customer confidence in future ads.”
Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s consumer group director, said: “We’ve been backing this change, which will help close the gap between what broadband shoppers expect and what they actually receive. Similarly, we’re improving the information people get before taking out a broadband contract so they can buy with confidence.”