Misleading broadband speeds banned by ad watchdog

Advertising watchdogs have finally clamped down on exaggerated claims about how fast your Internet connection will be.

Advertising watchdogs have finally clamped down on exaggerated claims about how fast your Internet connection will be -- but have they gone far enough?

The Committee of Advertising ­Practice and Advertising Standards Authority introduces new guidelines this week to ensure adverts paint a more realistic picture of broadband speeds offered by each Internet service provider.

Currently, most adverts are plastered with a giant number that bears little relation to the everyday speeds people around the country can get, as ISPs advertise a theoretical maximum speed instead of a more representative figure.

But the new rules state that an ISP can only say it offers "up to" a particular speed if can actually deliver that speed to at least 10 per cent of customers.

Is that enough? 10 per cent of customers doesn't sound like a lot, and could certainly be tipped towards well-served areas like cities and towns. Still, the gap in speeds between the best and worst-served areas mean any single number is likely to be misleading for many customers.

In recent years, only Virgin Media has managed to broadly live up to -- and sometimes exceed -- its promises, while other ISPs have left customers disappointed.

A recent report by telecoms regulator Ofcom found that the average broadband speed in Britain is around 7.6Mbps, a far cry from the speeds plastered across adverts. Speeds can vary by as much as a third in the evening to less busy times of day, and Britain is still riddled with ' not-spots ', areas where there is little or no broadband connection.

A whopping three-quarters of us are unhappy with our broadband , but there is hope on the horizon. Ofcom recently set out to limit broadband charges and make it easier to switch to a different ISP .

Do you feel misled by the broadband you were promised? Is 10 per cent enough to give a fair figure? What's your biggest headache for Internet connection, or are you happy with your service? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.

About the author

Rich Trenholm is a senior editor at CNET where he covers everything from phones to bionic implants. Based in London since 2007, he has travelled the world seeking out the latest and best consumer technology for your enjoyment.


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