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Broadband speeds 51% lower than advertised, says Which? study

Broadband speeds Photo: PA Wire/PA Images

British households are paying for broadband speeds that are on average 51% slower than advertised, according to a study.

Customers paying for speeds of up to 38 megabits per second (Mbps) are only receiving on average half that at 19 Mbps, results from 235,000 uses of the Which? broadband speed checker tool found.

From May 23, home broadband providers must ensure that at least 50% of their customers can achieve advertised speeds at peak time under a crackdown to prevent misleading claims.

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Current standards allow firms to advertise “up to” speeds as long as they are available to a minimum of just 10% of customers, resulting in widespread complaints from government, consumer groups and the public.

The change follows a study by the Advertising Standards Authority that found most consumers think they are likely to receive a speed at or close to a provider’s headline claim when, for many, that is not the case.

The Which? findings revealed widespread differences between the speeds advertised and those delivered, with the results showing that the faster the advertised speed, the further away it was from the actual speed recorded in tests.

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Consumers paying for a package of up to 200Mbps were on average only able to receive average speeds of 52Mbps – just 26% of the speed promised.

Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home services, said: “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.

“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.”

Minister for Digital Margot James said: “The new advertising rules are great for consumers – headline ‘up to’ speeds that only need to be available to 10% of consumers are incredibly misleading.

“Customers need clear, concise and accurate information in order to make an informed choice.”