Consumer Confusion at ‘Max Broadband Speed’ Fiasco
Despite trying to make broadband speeds fairer in advertising Ofcom and the ASA have inadvertently made things much more confusing for UK consumers, says Broadbandgenie.co.uk.
New rules which came into force on 1 April mean ISPs can no longer claim ‘up to’ speeds which cannot be achieved by at least 10% of customers. However the amendments have not had the intended effect and broadband customers are now faced with a confusing list of differing speed estimates for what amounts to the same product.
“In many cases the download speeds quoted are still far in excess of the rates a user is likely to see in practice”, says Broadband Genie editor Matt Powell. “While at the same time it hasn’t made things any clearer for someone who simply wants the best service for their money – in fact, it’s now worse.”
“Now when comparing broadband services we’re seeing a wider range of speeds, even when ISPs are using the same equipment. Postcode checks on an unbundled exchange result in varying estimates, some as high as 18Mb, but there’s no difference in the hardware at the exchange and in reality the line is not going to be faster than 8Mb.”
The latest Ofcom data shows the average broadband connection in the UK is just 7.6Mb, still much lower than the speeds advertised. ISPs do provide accurate line data before a customer signs up to a service, but it was broadband advertisement which had concerned Ofcom and the ASA previously, and the guidelines were an attempt at clamping down on misleading claims.
“The attempt by Ofcom and the ASA to fix the issue has only made things worse”, says Matt. “ISPs can hardly be blamed for stretching the rules to the limit to get an edge over their competitors, the fault lies with the regulators and it should not have been implemented without greater consideration of the impact upon consumers and the industry.”