BroadbandNetworks

Broadband Advertising Rule Change Aims To Stop Bogus Speed Claims

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Regulator rule change on broadband speed claims in effort to stop consumers being misled by ISP speed claims

Major rule changes to broadband speed claims in adverts are on the way after the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) announced a rule change.

The CAP is the regulatory body responsible for writing and maintaining the UK’s Advertising Code, and from May 2018 speed claims in broadband ads should be based on the download speed available to at least 50 percent of customers at peak time and described in ads as “average”.

The change will see the removal of the current “up to” speed claims that are available to at least 10 percent of customers.

Fibre Broadband © Datskevich Aleh Shutterstock 2012

 

Rule Change

Among the new rules for broadband adverts, is the recommendation that ISPs also include speed-checking facilities in broadband adverts, wherever possible.

The new advertising rules for broadband speeds in residential properties will come into affect on 23 May 2018 after a six-month implementation period. It comes after research by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) found that broadband speed claims were likely to be ‘materially mislead’ consumers.

This prompted the CAP to carry out a full public consultation which strongly indicated that a rule change was needed. CAP said that it considers median peak-time download speed is the most meaningful speed measure to customers.

“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,” explained Shahriar Coupal, director of the Committees of Advertising Practice.

“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.

“We continually review our standards to make sure they reflect consumers’ experiences, the technology available and the evidence base to make sure our standards are in the right place. Following extensive research and consultation, we hope our new standards will improve customer confidence in future ads.”

Controversial Claims

This issue of broadband speeds has been a bugbear for many people for many years now.

In October British telecoms regulator Ofcom outlined its plans to impose tougher requirements on ISPs, and their claims about the broadband speeds customers are likely to achieve.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has previously been criticised for its decision to allow ISPs to still quote speeds “up to” a certain figure, if it was achievable by ten percent of their customers, as tantamount to lying to customers.

But pressure has been growing In April last year the British Infrastructure Group (BIG) said broadband advertising rules should be overhauled and mandatory refunds given.

Many ISPs in the UK have repeatedly broken advertising rules for broadband line speeds over the years.

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