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UK ISPs will no longer mislead customers by advertising top speeds

Have you ever questioned why the advertisement stated you’ll get significantly more download speed than you actually do? Well, for a lot of users in the UK, that is about to change as broadband providers will now be restricted to showing off its average speed rather than its top speed.

Up until now, internet service providers (ISPs) have been free to advertise their top speeds, being covered by the little inclusion of the words “up to” preceding it. This resulted in consumer backlash, claiming that ISPs have been misleading customers with its top speeds as only 10 percent of users manage to hit that mark.

These concerns were passed through a chain, from The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP), who then consulted with ISPs, Ofcom and consumer groups such as Which? to reach a solution.

The result is that companies have been given until May 2018 to change this to their average speed, in which a minimum of 50 percent of their customers achieve at peak times of the day. Alongside this, CAP also urges advertisers to point customers in the direction of speed-checking utilities such as Ookla’s Speedtest so that they know what their personal average will be.

“There are a lot of factors that affect the broadband speed a customer is going to get in their own home—from technology to geography, to how a household uses broadband,” says CAP director Shahriar Coupal. “Our new standards will give consumers a better understanding of the broadband speeds offered by different providers when deciding to switch providers.”

“We continually review our standards to make sure they reflect consumers’ experiences, the technology available and the evidence base to make sure our standards are in the right place. Following extensive research and consultation, we hope our new standards will improve customer confidence in future ads.”

The move is a welcome one by both the government and consumer groups, with minister for digital Matt Hancock saying that he is delighted to see that CAP is finally changing the way broadband speeds are advertised. Headline ‘up to’ speeds that only need to be available to 10% of consumers are incredibly misleading – customers need clear, concise and accurate information in order to make an informed choice.”

KitGuru Says: It seems that everyone is happy with these new changes, although I am not sure what this spells for specific, inconsistent companies that I’ve had the displeasure of being with in the past. And there is still the problem of companies using megabits instead of megabytes in advertisement, making numbers look confusingly higher to the uninformed. Have you ever felt deceived by your internet service provider?  

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  1. always ,

  2. I did in the past, when I was first promised up to 50Mbit and only got like 50% regularly. Later I moved and was promised only 20Mbit, because my home was not in a convenient location in relation to the neighborhood port or whatever. Nowadays my ISP promises and delivers 200Mbit; not up to, actually and consistently 200. So no complaints on that account. (I roughly know the difference between Mbit and MB, which helps.)