The new guidelines set out will be in effect from late May next year and will attempt to force broadband providers to advertise their average speeds achievable.
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the UK will no longer be able to falsely advertising their internet speeds through terminology uses such as “up to”. The announcement by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has been seen as a victory for UK consumers. It was also decided that ISPs will instead have to advertise their average speeds.
The new guidelines for ISP’s will kick in on 23 May next year and many believe that British consumers will no longer be falsely sold internet plans which claim to be “up to” 50 Mbps when in actual fact they average around 35 Mbps. The ASA guidelines will ensure that consumers know what they are getting before they sign up for a broadband subscription.
ISPs will from May need to advertise the connection speeds which can be achieved by at least 50 percent of their nationwide consumers, during peak hours. This will help solve the issue of varying internet speeds, not only between different locations but also at different times of the day.
The new policy will have a dramatic effect on the information that consumers are given before they sign up for internet subscriptions. The director of the committees of advertising practice, Shahriar Coupal, said that there are many factors which affect the broadband speeds for customers such as technology, geography, and broadband usage in a household.
He added that these factors mean that some people will get slower internet speeds but will the new standards in place it will give consumers a better understanding of which speeds are on offer by which providers. Until recently, ISPs were allowed to advertise up to speeds that only 10 percent of consumers can actually achieve. For the remaining 90 percent of users, internet speeds are always a point of concern.
According to Guy Mitchell from the UK firm Solicitors Own Software said consumers constantly suffer from weak internet speed that they are offered. Mitchell regularly liaises with frustrated customers and said there was no doubt that internet users have highly variant connection speeds. He agrees with customers who say they have been mis-sold a service by their ISP.
He also said that it did not matter which provider consumers chose, they all falsely claim to be faster than they actually are. Experts say that they do not understand why ISPs need six months to get used to the new regulations. And for users, another worrying point is that the guidelines would remain exactly that, a guide, as no actual regulations were created which force ISPs to stop using the term ‘up to.’
Ofcom already has codes of practice in place on broadband speeds for residential and business customers. The document requires that ISPs give consumers an estimate of the speeds they are likely to receive at the time of the sale.
In addition, Ofcom also gives customers the right to exit their contracts, without penalty, if their speed falls below a minimum level. Unlike the ASA guidelines, Ofcom suggests that speeds should be advertised as a range, with a clearly stated minimum speed expectation.