Truth in advertising
Broadband speeds have fallen in the UK, but it is not because of any technology problem, it is just the fact a government watchdog has clamped down on ISPs lying in their advertising.
New research by independent price comparison and switching service uSwitch.com shows that advertised speeds on non-fibre products bought by uSwitch.com customers have dropped from up-to 21.66 Mbps to up-to 14.58 Mbps, a difference of 7.08 Mbps, or 33 per cent.
Before the ruling came into force on 1st April 2012, most ISPs were quoting the fastest download speeds possible, with the only exception being Virgin Media, who already tried to be more representative of average speeds. Excluding Virgin Media, Plusnet and BT fibre packages, uSwitch.com looked at the same non-fibre broadband packages being sold before and after 1st April. The new rules, designed to stop ISPs quoting unrealistic speeds, mean that providers can only quote an ‘up-to’ speed if it can deliver that speed to at least 10 per cent of its customers.
Julia Stent, Director of Telecoms at uSwitch.com, said that the unfortunate reality for many broadband users, particularly those in rural areas where the infrastructure isn't yet up to scratch, is that the up-to speeds previously advertised by broadband providers are not the speeds they actually receive. She said that this change in advertising regulation is a positive step for consumers as it provides a much more accurate picture of which speeds you can expect than before. Many providers have also now started to display up-to speeds to individual customers based on postcode and phone number, which give you an even better idea of the top speed you might be able to get.
“And let’s not forget that essentially, broadband is a local product, which means that quality very much depends on local conditions such as distance from telephone exchange and the number of people using broadband in the area,” she said.