The ASA should get up to speed on broadband advertising

22nd January 2016

Why the 10% rule for advertised speeds isn't fair for consumers.

A company advertises what appears to be a whizzy product, but only one in 10 people can actually receive what it promises to deliver.

Doesn’t sound fair? Well, this is exactly what’s happening in the broadband market.

The ASA has launched a review of broadband advertising. Its focus is on prices, to help consumers understand the deals on offer. We will work with the regulator to ensure that the right guidelines are in place.

However, this is only part of the picture. To properly compare different broadband offers, consumers need to assess the whole deal: price and speed.

To enable this, the ASA needs to overhaul the outdated rules on broadband speed advertising. Dating back to 2011, the ASA rules allow companies advertise a headline broadband speed if it is available to only 10% of customers.

Virgin Media is proud to offer the fastest widely-available broadband speeds with 200Mbps for homes. We’ll soon launch 300Mbps for small businesses, up to four times faster than our rivals.

Of course, there are technical reasons why consumers might occasionally be unable to access the top speed– they affect every provider from time to time and we all work hard to fix them quickly.

But according to a broadband speeds report from Which? the gap between the speeds delivered by internet providers such as BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Plusnet versus those delivered by our superior technology is vast.

The Which? report found that only 7% of customers using ADSL services could get their advertised maximum speeds, while 98% of Virgin Media customers could receive advertised maximum speeds. In fact, the average maximum speeds delivered on our network were faster than the advertised speeds.

If the ASA is serious it should ensure consumers can compare broadband deals on the things that really matter, and this includes speed.

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