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UK ads watchdog cracks down on ‘misleading’ broadband speeds

INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS (ISPs) will be soon be forced to  ensure that 50 per cent of their customers can achieve advertised speeds at peak time as part of a crackdown by the UK’s advertising regulator. 

The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) announced on Thursday that, from next year, ISPs will only be able to advertise “average” download speeds if at least 50 per cent of customers are able to receive them during the peak times of 8pm and 10pm. 

Under current rules, broadband providers are able to advertise “up to” speeds as long as they are available to at least 10 per cent of customers

Research carried out by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) found that consumers are likely to be misled by the advertising of speed claims that follow the current guidance, with many assuming that they are likely to receive a speed at or close to a provider’s headline claim.

CAP is also recommending that speed-checking facilities, like those provided on internet service providers’ websites, should be promoted in ads wherever possible.

Director of the Committees of Advertising Practice, Shahriar Coupal, said: “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.

Related: UK broadband speeds lag behind most of Europe

“While we know these factors mean some people will get significantly slower speeds than others; when it comes to broadband ads, 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 guidance will take effect on 23 May 2018 after a six-month implementation period and will apply to residential broadband services.

As part of its research, the ASA also this week concluded that ISPs are not misleading consumers by using the description “fibre broadband” for services that use fibre-optic cables for only part of the connection. µ

Source : Inquirer

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