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ASA Start Enforcing New UK Mobile Broadband Speed Advertising Rules

Thursday, Nov 1st, 2012 (1:22 am) - Score 579

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has today begun enforcing new guidelines that are designed to tackle misleading promotions of Mobile Broadband speed. The changes were first introduced earlier this year for fixed line ISPs (here) but have now also been extended to mobile operators.

Under the new guidelines mobile operators, which have had 3 months to make the necessary changes (original announcement), must be able to demonstrate that any internet connection speed they promote is “achievable for at least 10% of the relevant customer base“. This must further be supported by robust, reasonable and representative data that can be “clearly explained” to customers.

The changes came about after several studies, such as Ofcom’s 2011 research (here), revealed that actual mobile broadband performance often delivered significantly less than advertised. For example, mobile operators frequently promote the top theoretical speeds of their USB dongles/modems or Smartphone’s (e.g. up to 21Mbps for some recent HSPA+ / 3G based hardware), yet the vast majority of consumers will experience just a small fraction of that.

Obviously the situation is significantly more difficult for mobile operators because the end-user is constantly moving to new locations and may also swap hardware on a regular basis, which can have a huge impact upon service performance.

As a result the ASA requires mobile operators to “test network performance in a wide range of locations representative of where users access mobile [data] services, including indoor and outdoor locations and areas of different signal strength“. Mobile operators must also consider the users distance from mobile masts and any other “environmental obstructions“.

It remains to be seen, especially given the complexity of what the ASA has demanded, how effective the new measures will actually be.

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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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