Analysis: UK broadband 51% slower than advertised

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British households are paying for broadband services that are, on average, 51 per cent slower than advertised, according to analysis from consumer body Which?.

Results generated from 235,000 uses of the Which? broadband speed-checker tool show that, on average, customers are paying for speeds of up to 38 megabits per second, but actually only receiving half of that (19Mbps).

The research, conducted ahead of new Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) guidelines coming into effect on May 23rd, reveals widespread differences between the speeds advertised and those delivered. The new rules mean more people will have a clearer idea of the broadband speeds they will actually receive.

“This change in the rules is good news for customers, who have been continuously been let down by unrealistic adverts and broadband speeds that won’t ever live up to expectations,” declared Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home services. “We know that speed and reliability of service really matter to customers, and we will be keeping a close eye on providers to make sure they follow these new rules and finally deliver the service that people pay for.”

Which? analysis shows that, overall, the faster the speed advertised, the greater the distance from the actual speed recorded in tests. For example, consumers paying for a package of ‘up to 200Mbps’ were only able to get average speeds of 52Mbps – just 26 per cent of the speed promised.

But even customers on standard broadband packages, advertised as being ‘up to 17Mbps’, were receiving an average speed of just 6Mbps – a third of the claimed speed. The closest actual average speed to that reportedly advertised was for those on ‘up to 50Mbps’ broadband deals. Here users received an average of 35Mbps, 70 per cent of the advertised speed.

Research conducted by the Committees of Advertising Practice found that customers were likely to be misled by the current practices, with most thinking they were likely to receive a speed close to that claimed in advertising, despite this not being the case.

From May 23, the ASA will require that providers include a median average speed for the service available to at least 50 per cent of households at peak time. Until now, broadband providers have been able to advertise ‘up to’ speeds that are available to just 10 per cent of customers.

The tougher rules mean that people will have a clearer idea of the speed they’re likely to receive if they sign up to a broadband deal. Which? has campaigned for these new guidelines to be introduced since 2013 through its Broadband Speed Guaranteed campaign.


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