Why the rules for advertising broadband speeds need revisiting

Some lucky broadband customers get the maximum speed their ‘up to’ broadband package promises while others struggle to get enough oomph to complete routine tasks online.

At the moment the UK Advertising Standards Authority allows broadband providers to advertise a download speed if it’s available to just 10% of customers (which could mean 90% of their customers never get that speed) and that applies in Jersey and Guernsey as well. We think that the current ASA rules are misleading.

CICRA has seen a move by some operators to discontinue slower speeds. But this has left some customers feeling that they are being forced to pay more for higher speeds that they may never get. It’s true that not everyone’s connection is the same and there are a variety of reasons why some households will always struggle to get the ‘up to’ advertised speeds. CICRA’s own recent study (see here) suggests copper connections can be less consistent than fibre with speeds that slow down depending on length and quality of your connection to the exchange. Fibre optic cables are more consistent but are not universally available. The proliferation of wireless devices also impacts on speeds.

Which? the UK consumer association has been campaigning against “hopelessly lax broadband-speed advertising regulations” for years and recently it seems the ASA is sitting up and taking notice. The ASA is going to conduct research over the summer into broadband speeds and expects to publish results in the autumn. CICRA will be keeping a close eye on the conclusion; we’re hopeful that the ASA will change the rules so that they are fairer for consumers, give a clearer idea of what they can expect and are easier to understand.





Louise Read


Broadband telecoms