Broadband ads 'misleading'

Dave Thompson/PA Wire

A new survey from, the broadband price comparison site, has highlighted the frustration felt by broadband customers when it comes to broadband advertising claims.

The data comes just days before the deadline for new advertising guidelines for broadband suppliers come into force. polled almost 42,000 broadband users on their attitudes toward broadband advertising, and a staggering 89 per cent of customers expressed disappointment, claiming they feel broadband advertising is misleading.
Dominic Baliszewski, broadband expert, commented: "Broadband advertising has until now focused on headline speeds that are optimistic at best and completely unrealistic at worst. It is hardly surprising that consumers are unhappy when the Ferrari they paid for turns out to be little faster than a moped."

Whilst recent research from Ofcom revealed that we are achieving 22 per cent faster broadband speeds at home than we were 12 months ago, the average speed achieved by broadband customers in the UK was 7.6Mb/s - considerably less than the frequently advertised speeds of 20Mb.

The new advertising standards

The Committee of Advertising Practice and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice reviewed the speed claims of suppliers and published new guidance in September 2011, which will come into force on 1 April this year.

Amongst other recommendations, the guidelines require that speed claims made by suppliers must be achievable for at least 10 per cent of customers.
Baliszewski argues that although the new guidelines are a step in the right direction, "they still do not go far enough in ensuring that the lion's share of customers gets what they think they're paying for.

"Setting the advertised maximum speed at a figure that only a privileged few customers can receive will still rub salt in the wound for the remaining 90 per cent of customers who have little chance of achieving the provider's best speeds."

"We would like to see 'typical speeds' made the gold standard for broadband advertising in the same way that banks use typical APR percentages, giving consumers a much clearer picture of the kind of service they are likely to receive."

What you see is what you get?

Ofcom put the increase in our broadband speeds down to more of us switching to higher speed packages, and fibre optic services from companies such as Virgin Media and BT Infinity are steadily reaching more homes as the roll-out continues.

However, the Ofcom figures show that under this new guidance the industry average speed based on 10 per cent of customers would be 6Mb/s for services currently advertised as 'up to' 8Mb/s and 14 MB/s for services currently advertised as 'up to' 20/24Mb/s.
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