"Advertised broadband speeds are a tissue of lies" shock claim

2 March 2011

Every so often the perception filters of regulators and advertisers fail, and the real world comes crashing down around the ears of big business. In the latest instance, regulators Ofcom have suddenly become aware that the claims of broadband companies concerning download speeds are nothing short of outright lies.

The rest of the world looks on and wanders what took them so long.

From research conducted at the end of last year, Ofcom has deduced that average download speeds remain less than half of ‘up to’ speeds advertised by some ISPs, particularly for broadband delivered via a phone line.

At the bottom of the pile was BT; their 'up to 20Mbps' broadband service only delivered average speeds of 6.9 to 8.7Mbps. Boo.

Bitterwallet - Ofcom broadband speeds

Ofcom is now pressing the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to bring in new codes to such prevent misleading claims; the regulator is proposing a Typical Speeds Range (TSR) representing the range of speeds actually achieved by at least half of customers.

Unsurprisingly, the chap in charge of BT Retail is unhappy with the news. He told the BBC in a response that made no sense: ""We have real concerns with their approach. Broadband speeds vary from line to line and so it is meaningless to use one speed for advertising. That is why we use the term 'up to'."

Right, so using an average speed for advertising is meaningless, but using an optimum speed that the majority of customers can never achieve isn't misleading in any way? Er.

TOPICS:   Broadband


  • Phil
    The problem is sometimes half the speed loss can be down to the customer. When moving into my house I was seeing 8.5Mb on a 20Mb package. I then ripped out the extension, replaced the bottom half of the faceplate and I'm now getting 14Mb sync. Still the ISP are bunch of thiefs anyway - so anything that makes them work harder is a good thing!
  • Alexis
    ASA? That powerless bunch? Today's ruling - Waitrose can't run their Christmas ad again in its current form. Genius.
  • Herp D.
    Wanders? I know not many people read this blog but please at least proof what you post
  • Meh
    The table should compare the average speed to the 'up to' speed with another column showing the % difference. People who skim this information wouldn't notice how awful BT's speeds are.
  • chris
    @Meh BT is no better than any other of the isps in the table
  • delrio
    it's also partly how they sell things. sky have 'up to' 20mb, but it's also their unlimited downloads package, so we have it even though our line is only capable of 1 or 2 mb. a lot of packages are sold like this. so they should be taking into account the line speed, not just the package
  • thingonaspring
    i "upgraded" my virgin media "M" internet (up to 10mb) to their "M+" recently, when i was going to leave. they don't sell the "M" package any more, and she admitted to me it was effectively up to 5mb, despite saying 10mb on the site. it saved me £9 a month to UPgrade. how's that for confusing price policies?
  • Brad
    Yeah something else id like to know is if Virgins 'Bottleing' at certain times was taken into account as well?
  • klingelton
    as much as i've slandered Vermin media in teh past, in the last 18 months they've been fantastic to me. i've had an issue that required an engineer twice, and twice they've come out. ok i don't get the full 10 meg, but i get pretty close to it and whenever i check, it's always pretty high. that said, the real crooks are the ADSL lot that shouldn't be advertising the "UPTO" speed, but the average speed experienced by their customers, which would give a far more realistic picture of what to expect - and this is something Vermin media already do. the final question to be asked is: what connection speed do people actually need? a stable 1 meg connection with no lag or jitter is enough to stream movies, watch pr0n, download stuff, comfortably browse the web very quickly and smoothly. Regardless of bandwidth, people should be fighting for a stable, decent connection. It's the megapixel argument all over again.
  • Chris
    The thing I do not understand is that before you buy any broadband you are told the speed you should get. You are not forced to buy it! The ASA should be cracking down on the term 'unlimited data' instead of this rubbish!
  • bittertraveller
    I'd agree with klingelton on the point of a stable connection. A fast 20meg connection is no good if you keep loosing connection or bouncing the hub. (I won't agree that 1meg is enough though. 6-10meg would be fine for me). BT in my experience have been much much worse than when I was with virgin. To often I've seen broadband blinky light lost or had to reboot with BT. I remember only having to do it once or twice with virgin over a few years.
  • Paul a.
    I must say in BT plc defence, that I have clocked my BT infinity line (up to 40mb) going at 85mb at 5pm - To Infinity and Beyond as Buzz would say!

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