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UPDATE ISP TalkTalk UK Complains to ASA over BT 20Mbps Broadband Advert

Posted: 21st Aug, 2009 By: MarkJ
Broadband ISP TalkTalk ( Tiscali , AOL UK , Opal etc. ) will complain to the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) today that adverts for BT's new 'up to' 20Mbps broadband speeds are misleading. The move relates to a BT ad that claims its recently upgraded service is "consistently faster even at peak times compared with the industry [OFCOM] average".

The Samknows news item has been informed that the claim by BT is based on a short week-long test of just 20 broadband telephone lines and was conducted during School holidays, which could potentially skew the result and is also different from Ofcom's testing methodology. BT also ran the test itself, which would have allowed it to be very selective about the chosen lines.

A TalkTalk spokesperson commented:

"They’ve looked at just twenty lines over a week! How on earth do they expect to be able to come up with an industry average from that? Ironically, in the Ofcom study, which we think is compiled under a far better methodology, BT didn’t so well."

Ofcom's April study revealed that average UK broadband speeds stood at 4.1Mbps and that BT's average performance on its older 'up to' 8Mbps products hovered between 3.8Mbps and 4.2Mbps. By comparison TalkTalk had between 3.8Mbps and 4.6Mbps (original news).

UPDATE - 28th August 2009

Here's a statement we've just had from TalkTalk.

TalkTalk complains to ASA over BTs advertising
We are complaining to the ASA about BT's advertising claim that their broadband is "consistently faster even at peak times compared with the industry average".

TalkTalk questions the BT methodology:

· BT’s performance is compared to 11 ISPs over a very small number of competitor lines (approx 20). This is therefore not statistically significant especially when compared to Ofcom's recent survey of over 1600 homes where BT didn't fare so well

· In addition, BT know which lines are being tested and can control their performance. Consequently the results can be manipulated to show better performance e.g. prioritised backhaul, manually tweaking line settings, installation of an i-plate etc.

· The period of time over which these were established was just 1 week (July 25th to July 31st) versus Ofcom's survey which lasted 6 months

It is noted that BT's ADSL2+ network will have 55% coverage by the end of March 2010 and so the availability of services greater than 8Mbps will be limited. The BT ad makes no mention of availability which we contend is misleading.
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