Ofcom finally tires of fantasy broadband speeds

Ofcom has called for the way broadband speeds are advertised to be overhauled.

Ofcom finally tires of fantasy broadband speeds

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is currently undertaking a review of the way broadband speeds are advertised, and Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards has called for stricter rules.

The call comes after Ofcom’s latest research found that customers typically receive less than half the headline speed.

Speeds should only be advertised if they’re actually achievable by some customer

Richards wants ISPs to be banned from advertising “up to” speeds that are based on theoretical maximums rather than the actual speed customers can receive. BT, for example, caps “up to 8Mbits/sec” lines at 7.2Mbits/sec to ensure connections are stable.

“We want to see clearer advertising,” Richards told journalists. “Speeds should only be advertised if they’re actually achievable by some customers.”

Ofcom is also calling for ISPs to include a “typical speed range” in their adverts, so that customers receive a more realistic picture of the speeds they’re likely to receive.

Too little too late?

Richards rebuffed the suggestion that Ofcom and the ASA have been slow to address the advertised speeds issue. “It’s completely wrong to say we’ve sat back,” Richards retorted. “We’ve done more in this area [broadband speeds] than any other regulator in the whole world.”

However, Richards admitted that the final decision on whether to tighten broadband advertising rules laid with the ASA, not Ofcom.

The ASA says it will take Ofcom’s findings into account. “The ASA is committed to ensuring that broadband speed claims in ads do not mislead consumers,” the organisation claimed in a statement.

“Technology is developing quickly, which is why we have recently asked the bodies responsible for writing the Advertising Codes to look at broadband advertising speed claims as part of a wider review of the sector. The aim of the work is to provide better clarity for consumers, so Ofcom’s research will be a valuable resource.”

The call comes as Ofcom introduced a highly complex revision of its broadband code of conduct, which will allow some customers to break their contract with their ISP if actual speeds fail to meet expectations.

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