ASA says ISPs cannot advertise speeds unavailable to most users

Broadband providers will not be able to claim higher speed, of their internet service, that is actually unavailable to most of their customers, following a shake-up by Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) on how broadband firms will be allowed to advertise.

ASA said that numerical speed claims in advertisements of telecoms firms should be based on the download speeds experienced by at least 50% of customers during peak time and be described as “average” in the ads. This notice given to ISPs mark a change from the current ads claiming “up to” speeds, which is available to at least 10% of customers.

The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP), the body that maintains and writes the advertising codes of the UK, has laid out the new guidance. It will come into force on 23rd May of next year, after a 6-month implementation period. The director of CAP, Shahriar Coupal, said there are many factors that affect a customer’s broadband speed got in their home, from the geography to technology and how the broadband is used in the household. These factors mean that some may get significantly lower speeds than others.

When it comes to broadband advertising, their new standards will give a better understanding to consumers, on broadband speeds that are offered by various providers, when a consumer decides on switching providers. CAP said that consumers may interpret a range currently publicised by broadband companies, as the speeds likely to be got individually, as against to the range they are generally likely to get.

The consumer group director at Ofcom, Lindsey Fussel, said they were backing this change, which will help in closing the gap between what a broadband shopper is expecting and actually what is received. The director added that they are similarly improving on what information people can get prior to taking up a contract for broadband.

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