UK reveals tough new broadband ad rules for ISPs

24 Nov 2017

Image: WaveBreakMedia/Shutterstock

ISPs told to ditch misleading broadband ads that frustrate consumers.

Under new broadband ad rules set out by the UK Advertising Standards Authority, telcos and ISPs will no longer be permitted to advertise headline speeds that only a minority of customers actually get.

The new rules drive a dagger into the heart of the old chestnut about ‘up to’ broadband speeds that the public found misleading.

‘We hope our new standards will improve customer confidence in future ads’

Until now, firms advertised ‘up to’ speeds that only 10pc of customers could enjoy.

Under the new rules, ISPs can only advertise ‘average’ speeds that 50pc of users enjoy at peak times when networks are at their busiest.

No more notional broadband ads

The guidance will take effect on 23 May 2018 after a six-month implementation period, and will apply to residential broadband services.

Director of the Committees of Advertising Practice, Shahriar Coupal, said that following a consultation with the public and ISPs and telcos, it was clear that it is only at peak times when traffic volumes are at their highest that people get a better indication of the speeds they are likely to experience.

Put simply, a 24-hour measurement is vastly misleading.

“There are a lot of factors that affect the broadband speed a customer is going to get in their own home; from technology to geography, to how a household uses broadband,” Coupal explained.

“While we know these factors mean some people will get significantly slower speeds than others, when it comes to broadband ads, our new standards will give consumers a better understanding of the broadband speeds offered by different providers when deciding to switch providers.

“We continually review our standards to make sure they reflect consumers’ experiences, the technology available and the evidence base to make sure our standards are in the right place. Following extensive research and consultation, we hope our new standards will improve customer confidence in future ads.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years