80% sick of misleading broadband adverts

What can you do if your broadband speed is much slower than expected?

Bundle of fibre optics used to send data

Broadband adverts offer a glimpse into a wonderful world. You and your family will all be able to hook up to the internet, stream TV and music, work from home, browse the web, and upload photographs to your heart's content. And nobody - anywhere - is getting frustrated, watching a slow-moving white circle, banging their desk, or demanding that everyone else stops using their devices while they try to make a Skype call to granny. Sadly, all too few of us get to enjoy this wonderful world for real.

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A new study by Cable.co.uk reveals that we're sick of this situation, and that 80% of us find that the way broadband speeds are currently advertised is misleading.

At the moment, only 10% of customers have to be able to get a particular speed before the company can advertise speeds of 'up to' that amount. It means that the vast majority of people will sign up expecting one product, and receive a vastly inferior one.

Consumer telecoms expert Dan Howdle says of the research: "Broadband remains the only service you can buy without knowing what it is you're actually going to get. The current system is a lucky dip where everyone pays the same, no matter what mystery item they ultimately pull out."

The study found that most of us want companies to be prevented from advertising an 'up to' speed unless two thirds of customers have access to these speeds.

The good news is that it's not just customers who are unimpressed. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has called for a change to the way broadband speeds are advertised, and the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) is currently reviewing its guidance: it is due to publish a report later this year.

What can you do?

For those in the very worst situations - where they are in the bottom 10% for speed - there is some relief, because they can pull out of a 12 or 18 month contract without facing penalties.

For everyone else, Howdle says there's a little-known clause in some contracts that could come to your aid. He explains: "You should always read the small print when signing up to a new broadband deal, being sure to make yourself aware of the cooling-off period during which you can leave free of charge."

Unfortunately, given that most services operate on the Openreach network, he says: "switching to another provider on the same network is unlikely to yield better results." The only other option is to switch to a cable provider - presuming one operates in your area.

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