Internet service providers may soon have to abandon the “up to” prefix used to advertise broadband speeds in marketing campaigns. UK Advertising Standards Authority has received a request from communications regulator Ofcom to ban the use of the prefix, citing that it is “misleading” consumers. Currently, internet service providers can market speeds if they are theoretically attainable.
The Communications Consumer Panel (CCP), a division of Ofcom, maintains that the usage of the prefix is causing consumers to be skeptical of all broadband speed claims. Although the “up to” speeds are achievable for internet service providers, most of the providers are aware that the advertised speeds are not sustainable. Advertising unsustainable speeds has cost the broadband industry its advertising credibility, creating the skepticism.
The panel has requested the ASA to engineer a plan that will protect consumers from the grossly misleading advertising. As a suggestion, the panel submitted the request to change the advertised speeds to reflect the minimum speeds provided by the broadband service.
However, Which?, UK’s leading consumer magazine, suggests that advertised speeds must be available to at least ten percent of the service provider’s customer base. Ceri Stanaway, broadband expert for Which?, said, “One thing’s certain based on all the feedback we receive from consumers - the way broadband speed is currently advertised simply isn’t transparent enough and often leaves broadband customers feeling misled and shortchanged.”
Broadband provider Virgin Media is working to perpetuate clarity of connection speeds between providers and consumers. Currently, Virgin Media customers have access to performance reports published monthly of achieved speeds by the provider. In an attempt to restore credibility to broadband, Virgin Media encourages its competitors to follow suit, providing consumers with honest achieved speeds.