Broadband ads crackdown should extend to speeds, says Which? header image

Published: 28th Jan 2016

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and Ofcom's bid to tighten up regulations around broadband advertising should include speeds as well as prices, Which? has argued.

It was announced this month that the ASA would be approaching broadband providers to raise concerns that prices as they are currently advertised could "confuse and mislead consumers".

The industry authority will be seeking to implement key changes by May 30th 2016 to ensure the full cost of broadband deals is made clear in adverts.

It will suggest that providers advertise all-inclusive upfront and monthly costs, with line rental no longer listed separately, and also call for greater prominence to be given to contract lengths, post-discount pricing and initial expenses.

Richard Lloyd, executive director of Which?, said this is a "step in the right direction", but urged the ASA and Ofcom to take similar action with the advertising of broadband speeds.

The consumer group referred to its own research indicating that nearly nine out of ten people (88 per cent) see speed as an important factor when choosing an internet provider.

Three-quarters (74 per cent) of households - some 15.4 million homes - with fixed broadband connections were found to be paying for packages advertising speeds they never received.

Mr Lloyd said: "Broadband is an essential part of life and millions of homes are not getting the speed they expect.

"We want the advertising authorities and the regulator to change the rules and ensure consumers get the speeds they are promised by their provider."

One action that Ofcom has taken is the introduction of measures to ensure consumers receive accurate information about broadband speeds when they take out a contract.

Sharon White, chief executive of the communications watchdog, said: "We'll continue to work with industry and other regulators to ensure that broadband customers are treated fairly and have the best possible information to make the right choices."