ASA to review the way broadband speeds are advertised

The advertising watchdog is to test consumers’ understanding of the broadband speed claims made in ads.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have announced that we’ll be conducting research into consumers’ understanding of broadband speed claims made in ads.  The research will be conducted alongside the Committees for Advertising Practice (CAP), which are the bodies responsible for writing and maintaining the Advertising Codes.

Currently, providers can advertise headline speeds as long as they are preceded by the words ‘up to’ and are achievable by at least 10% of customers.

Ads for fibre-based services must also include disclaimer making it clear that speed vary significantly depending on the distance between their property and the telephone exchange or street cabinet.

These rules are based on guidance introduced by CAP following a public consultation in 2011.

Since the introduction of the guidance, complaints to the ASA about broadband speed advertising have fallen by 60% – but concerns remain that consumers are misled by claims about speed.

ASA Chief Executive Guy Parker has said:

As an evidence-based regulator, we want to make sure our approach is underpinned by the experience of real people. While complaints to the ASA about broadband speed claims have reduced considerably over recent years, we’re taking action to respond to the concerns by testing our approach through consumer research.

The ASA and CAP will publish their findings in the early autumn. CAP will then determine whether there needs to be any change to the current guidance.

Whatever the outcome of latest investigation, the way broadband packages are advertised is going to change later this year.

From 31 October, providers will have to show all-inclusive up-front and monthly costs in ads that include price claims.

They will also have to give greater prominence to contract length, up-front costs and any post-discount pricing.

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