A new uSwitch study has revealed that the recent introduction of stricter guidelines by the UK Advertising Standards Authority (full details) has caused advertised (headline) broadband ISP “up to” speeds on non-superfast packages to fall by 33% (-7.08Mbps) from an average of up to 21.66Mbps to 14.58Mbps (Megabits per second).
One of the biggest changes was a requirement that ISPs should be able to demonstrate that their advertised speeds are achievable by at least 10% of users (to be reviewed every 6 months or so), which has had the biggest impact upon the dominant ADSL (8Mbps theoretical maximum) and ADSL2+ (20-24Mbps) based internet access services. These are known for their variable (poor) performance; DSL is highly susceptible to copper telephone line related length and reliability/speed problems.
At the time of writing many smaller ISPs still haven’t adapted but the biggest providers have, with some even removing public speed promotions altogether; this could be counterproductive, depending upon your perspective (harder to compare services).
For example, TalkTalk reduced its headline speeds down “up to 13Mbps“, PlusNet went with “up to 16Mbps“, BT also chose “up to 16Mbps“, Sky Broadband took “up to 14Mbps” and most recently O2 has opted for “up to 16Mbps” (all had previously promoted ADSL2+ style 20-24Mbps speeds).
By comparison Ofcom’s most recent national broadband ISP speed testing data suggested that most 20-24Mbps (ADSL2+) services, which account for the vast majority of UK connections, can only deliver average real-world speeds of just 7Mbps. As a result the ASA itself hinted that, under its 10% rule, “up to 14Mbps” (or slightly higher) might be more viable for ADSL2+ providers.