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UPD Confusion as UK ISPs Struggle to Adopt New Broadband Speed Rules

Tuesday, Apr 3rd, 2012 (8:23 am) - Score 789

Broadband internet providers around the UK are still struggling to adapt after new advertising guidelines were imposed on Sunday 1st April 2012 (full details), which is despite ISPs having a full years worth of advanced warning. One of the biggest problem areas appears to stem from how an ISP is now expected to demonstrate that its advertised speeds are achievable by at least 10% of users.

ISPreview.co.uk did a quick look across the market and notes that most ISPs have yet to adapt (especially smaller providers), while many of the largest providers appear to be giving mixed signals. In fact most big ISPs have made the decision not to advertise any speeds at all (unless you run through their speed checker first, which often results in annoying marketing calls), which may or may not be an improvement depending upon your perspective.

But in private some big ISPs are telling those whom enquire a different story. TalkTalk wants its speeds to be referenced as “up to 13Mbps” (Megabits per second), BT points to “up to 16Mbps” and Sky Broadband wants “up to 14Mbps” (this is as opposed to their previous maximum theoretical capability ratings of 20-24Mbps for ADSL2+ based copper line services).

BT also now lists its superfast broadband FTTC (BTInfinity) service as being “up to 38Mbps” instead of 40Mbps, while TalkTalk still lists the same service as 40Mbps. By contrast Virgin Media’s cable platform, which has always been praised in Ofcom’s studies, hasn’t had to make many major changes and continues to advertise its top speeds.

Meanwhile others like BE Broadband and PlusNet, not to mention the majority of smaller ISPs, haven’t made any changes and O2 UK have yet to define what messaging they want to use (although they’ve already stopped stating speeds in public on most, but not all, pages). So, despite being given plenty of time to prepare, most ISPs are still trying to figure out the best way forward and in the short-term this could lead to some confusion.

ISPs certainly have a difficult balancing act to perform, which could benefit some and punish others. Confusion over technology type and performance is one area at risk, especially if providers fail to mention them and instead stick to using linear terms like “broadband” or “superfast broadband” with only limited qualification.

Elsewhere there is still some considerable doubt about the ASA’s ability to enforce its new guidelines. The organisation has about enough power to slap a few wrists in public and ask for changes but outside of that their hands are tied.

UPDATE 4th April 2012

PlusNet has now adjusted its advertised speeds as follows:

Plusnet Consumer (Value/Extra): up to 16Mb (in their “high speed network” area)
Plusnet Fibre: up to 38Mb
Plusnet Business: up to 17Mb (in their “high speed network” area)

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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