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New UK broadband ad rules come into force

Changes to fixed broadband advertised price claims have come into force after the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) signalled that transparency in broadband price ads must improve if advertisers are to be confident that their ads will not mislead consumers and risk being banned.

From now on, in order for broadband providers to ensure they stay within the rules, their price claims should:
– Show all-inclusive up-front and monthly costs; no more separating out line rental
– Give greater prominence to the contract length and any post-discount pricing
– Give greater prominence to up-front costs (such as delivery fee, activation fee, installation fee)

ASA Chief Executive Guy Parker, said:“Broadband is a service we all take for granted. That’s why some people can get frustrated when they sign-up to a package after seeing an ad, only to find their bills are higher than expected.  “Our research found people are likely to be confused and misled by the fixed broadband price claims in ads they see and we’ve responded by tightening our approach. From today, we expect to see a change in how broadband providers advertise their prices. The effect should be a real positive difference in how consumers understand and engage with ads for broadband services.”

Commenting on the new rules, Dave Millett of independent telecoms brokerage Equinox, said: “Whilst this is progress to a degree, it creates a problem for those people who want to buy broadband and phone lines from different suppliers.  It also does nothing towards the misleading adverts on the speed of broadband where suppliers can quote the speed that only 10 per cent of their customers get. A lot of people think they will get superfast speeds with fibre broadband, but this is not always the case; if your property is still some way from the cabinet it won’t help.   We have seen people getting less than 4mb downstream on fibre broadband advertised as up to 80mb. This is very misleading and the ASA still needs to address this.”

“The ASA should do more to help customers know what they are getting in terms of speed before contracts are signed. Plus of course this ruling does nothing to address the poor infrastructure overall within the country – which is still a huge problem for many businesses, both in rural areas and congested city centres.”

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