Consumer group calls for crackdown on 'confusing' broadband advertising header image

Published: 17th Nov 2014

Broadband customers across the UK are not being given a clear picture on the quality of service they can actually expect to receive, according to a consumer watchdog.

A new report from Which? has called for a crackdown on misleading advertisements for internet services that are not accurately or realistically representing their average connection speeds, causing confusion, disappointment and inconvenience for customers.

Currently, the speeds quoted in broadband adverts only need to apply to ten per cent of customers to meet advertising guidelines, but research from Which? found that only 12 per cent people are actually aware of this rule.

Connection speed was shown to be the second most important factor influencing their choice of broadband deal, behind pricing. Moreover, 88 per cent believe that speeds should be made clear in adverts, yet only five per cent agreed that the way speeds are currently advertised is the most transparent way of accomplishing this.

The report also showed that 25 per cent of people say they would choose a different deal if they had better information on their broadband speed, with average Mbps figures becoming around three times more important to customers choosing a package when it is presented based on the speed 90 per cent of customers would get, rather than ten per cent.

As such, the watchdog is calling on the Committee of Advertising Practice and the Broadcasting Committee of Advertising Practice to review guidelines in order to make this vital information clearer.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: "Internet connection is now an essential part of modern life, so it beggars belief that providers can sell people short by advertising speeds that only ten per cent of customers could receive.

"We want advertising watchdogs to pull the plug on confusing adverts and ensure broadband providers show the speeds the majority of customers will actually get."

These persistent issues with broadband service provision could lead to more customers opting for satellite broadband as a more reliable and easily accessible option.