Ofcom says UK broadband is faster, but adverts are still fairy tales

Ofcom has revealed that while broadband speeds are getting faster -- but advertised speeds are indeed little more than fairy tales

You may have seen Sky Broadband's latest advertising campaign: it's the one that revolves around such stories as the Princess and the Pea and Little Red Riding Hood. Today, Ofcom revealed that while average broadband speeds are faster than before, the speeds promised in adverts are indeed little more than fairy tales.

Ofcom, the regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industry, surveyed 1,500 homes during May 2010. The results suggest that average broadband speeds have got 25 per cent faster in the past year. The average speed is now 5.2Mbps, up from 4.1Mbps.

Average speeds fall short of the 'up to' maximum speeds promised in adverts, however. Ofcom singles out Virgin Media's 'up to 50Mbps' cable service as the fastest service tested, offering average download speeds of around 36Mbps. Virgin is also the fastest of the packages offering up to 10Mbps, with other services struggling to top 4Mbps. DSL connections advertised at up to 20Mbps or 24Mbps managed a paltry 6.5Mbps on average.

In light of this, Ofcom has tightened up its guidelines for advertising broadband speeds. It has suggested to the Advertising Standards Authority and the Committee on Advertising Practice that advertisers should also include a typical speed range, and only advertise 'up to' speeds if, y'know, at least some consumers are actually able to get that speed.

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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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