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Broadband speed advert plans would stop consumers being misled

Virgin Media has questioned the idea of basing speed claims in broadband advertising on peak time speeds. The CAP consultation runs until 13 June 2017. But that could soon end after the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP), the regulatory body that writes and maintains advertising codes in the United Kingdom, published four options1 to tighten up the broadband speed claims made by ISPs.

These measures include companies having to base speed claims on peak-time median download speed, 24-hour national median download speed and a number of other different measures created to make speed claims easier to understand. Brigitte Trafford, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at Virgin Media, commented: “Consumers are telling us that if the ASA is serious about making broadband advertising clearer, the new rules should be based on average speeds measured across a full day, rather than just taking a two-hour sample”. The watchdog hopes that these options will “better manage consumers’ expectations of the broadband speed they’re likely to receive from different broadband providers, with each of them offering tougher standards for broadband speed claims in ads than the current position”.

The proposed changes came after “independent research” found that the current regulatory standards were likely to mislead consumers. Broadband providers will have to make sure the speeds they advertise are available to at least 50% of consumers, under proposals published today.

“As central and local government services increasingly become “digital by default”, more people will need to have faster and more reliable speeds”. The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) is consulting on toughening up the standards following research which found they are now likely to mislead consumers.

But it seems that the research was unable to find consensus on what an alternative advertising standard should be that would ensure consumers are not being misled. He said: “We will now be working closely with our members to study the alternative options in detail and to ensure that the new broadband advertising standards provide consumers with a clear expectation of the speeds they are likely to receive, while also supporting the growth and development of the already very competitive and dynamic broadband market in the United Kingdom”.

“We take an evidenced-based approach to our work”, explained director of CAP, Shahriar Coupal.

“Our members already provide this kind of information as part of their sales journey and we would also urge consumers to consider other factors such as brand, service quality, speed and the availability of bundled services when choosing their providers”. The options being proposed by the ASA and CAP are meant to better manage consumer expectations by offering a more balanced picture of broadband speeds, and to plant the idea that they can not reasonably expect to get the same information from one-to-many advertising on national television as they might get from reaching out to their ISP.

Last month the ASA said it would conduct a review into the advertising of “fibre” broadband services.

Quiz: What do you know about fibre broadband2?

References

  1. ^ published four options (www.asa.org.uk)
  2. ^ What do you know about fibre broadband (www.techweekeurope.co.uk)

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