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ISPreview.co.uk Study Calls for Tougher Rules on Broadband Speed

Monday, July 23rd, 2012 (7:42 am) - Score 369

The results from 529 respondents to our latest monthly survey has revealed that the majority (74.8%) continue to find UK ISP promotions of broadband speed to be misleading and just over half (57.6%) aren’t familiar with the related Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) guidelines. But are tougher rules the answer?

Furthermore 81.8% felt that the term “unlimited usage“, which is often used to reflect the download allowance of a specific broadband package, was misleading. Perhaps unsurprisingly just over half of respondents (51%) admitted that they had not even read their ISPs terms (T&C’s) or usage policy documentation.

Are you familiar with the ASA’s new broadband ISP advertising rules?
No – 57.6%
Yes – 42.3%

Do you still find ISP advertising of broadband speeds misleading?
Yes – 74.8%
No – 25.1%

Do you often find terms like “unlimited” usage misleading?
Yes – 81.8%
No – 18.1%

Have you read your ISPs terms or usage policy small print?
Yes – 51%
No – 48.9%

The ASA guidelines (here), when combined with Ofcom’s existing Speeds Code of Practice 2010 (here), were designed to help consumers but clearly many people continue to have concerns. Consumers would naturally also benefit from educating themselves about the rules as some, such as Ofcom’s code, require ISPs to put real effort into resolving related problems.

Broadband performance can of course be affected by all sorts of different factors, such as the quality of your home wiring, the length of a phone line, local network capacity and or any related Traffic Management measures. But at the same time some ISPs could also improve their transparency, such as by making their service restrictions both simpler to understand and more accessible.

Ofcom and the ASA could probably do more too, such as by working harder to standardise how service restrictions are communicated and putting an end to the practice of burying such details away in small print or hard to find sections of a website. Many would also like to see the ASA given more power to impose penalties against repeat offenders.

Leave a Comment
3 Responses
  1. Avatar bob says:

    Broadband spped is a difficult area with advertising but in my view the current advertising can be very misleading. Many avertise the service as Unlimited when clearly it iss not. They either have an indicative Cap or they refr to some vague fair user terms which does not say anything meaningful.

    Speed is still quoted misleadingly. It would be better to quote a maximum possible speed for the service together with the typical speed most users are likely to get. This should be couple with a speed estimate for your particular line when you sign up. If the speed that is actually achieved is over 10% less then there should be the option of cancelling that contract wirhout penalty or downgrading to a cheper package.

  2. Avatar Deduction says:

    You can report any ISP that is still claiming to be unlimited with hidden caps or throttles. The ASA rules now say ISPs have to be clear about any limitations.

  3. Avatar zemadeiran says:

    Is this vindication of previous threads pointing out the need for cost scaling in regards to actual speeds?

    Lets buy fresh fish, how fresh is it? up to two weeks fresh….

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