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UK’s ‘tough’ new broadband advertising rules come into force

THE ADVERTISING STANDARDS AGENCY (ASA) has begun enforcing ‘tough’ new advertising rules for broadband providers starting today, in a bid to stop customers being misled about so-called ‘peak’ speeds. 

The new guidelines, first announced by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) last year, mean that ISPs can now only advertise “average” download speeds if at least 50 per cent of customers are able to receive them during the peak times of 8pm and 10pm. 

Until today, broadband providers were able to advertise “up to” speeds as long as they are available to at least 10 per cent of customers. 

CAP is also recommending that speed-checking facilities, like those provided on internet service providers’ websites, should be promoted in ads wherever possible.

The CAP’s crackdown came after research carried out by the ASA found that consumers are likely to be misled by the advertising of speed claims that follow the now-defunct guidance, with many assuming that they are likely to receive a speed at or close to a provider’s headline claim.

Chief Executive of the ASA, Guy Parker said: “From today, consumers will see a difference in broadband ads that make claims about speed as this new, tougher, standard is enforced. 

“We’ll be making sure consumers aren’t misled by speed claims in ads, not least because choosing the right broadband deal has become such an important part of running a household or business.”

Related: Almost one million Brits are still suffering from shonky broadband

Naturally, not everyone is welcoming the move, and some think it could cause confusion for consumers. 

“The new rules are going to mean that very different figures are going to appear in adverts, providers’ sites and comparison listings,” said Andrew Ferguson, from news website Thinkbroadband. 

“And there is a lot more scope for confusion or for providers to game the system to appear faster than their competitors.” µ

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