Small Business Advice

Broadband ads to be made clearer

Max White

Regulator says customers have been misled on broadband speeds for too long

Broadband companies are known for using aggressive marketing tactics to attract customers. But the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) says promises of speeds ‘up to’ X amount of megabytes are too misleading and must be made clearer.

How they will be made clearer hasn’t yet been determined, but the three main alternatives to promoting 'up to' speeds being considered are:

  • average speeds
  • the range of possible speeds
  • minimum speeds

A solution isn’t likely to be implemented until the spring, but for consumers, the changes can’t come soon enough.

Better for consumers

The ASA’s survey found that people understood a higher speed figure was a good thing. What’s not clear though, is the speed that people will actually get when they sign-up, and whether it will be sufficient for their needs.

In response to the announcement, the Internet Service Providers’ Association Council said that although speed is an important factor, it isn’t the only reason a customer chooses a particular deal.

And they’re right – determining the right broadband package is dependent on things like price and customer care too. But advertised broadband speeds are what customers feel sceptical about and it’s easy to see why.

Time to be upfront

Currently, a broadband company can advertise a certain ‘up to’ speed if a minimum of 10% of their customers receive it. That means 90% of customers may never get the speeds they see in the ads.

At XLN, we prefer to be upfront with our customers. That’s why we’re a voluntary member of Ofcom’s Broadband Speeds Code of Practice.

For information on the Code of Practice and broadband speeds, click here.