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Advertised broadband speeds misleading to users

28 July 2009 / by Andy Davies

Broadband users may not be getting the fast connections that were advertised to them when they signed up to their providers, Ofcom has revealed.

Research carried out in more than 1600 homes found that in April this year, the average broadband speed was 4.1 Mbit/s compared to the average advertised speed of up to 7.1 Mbit/s.

The importance of faster speeds is becoming greater as services like BBC iPlayer, which require fast connections, are becoming more popular with users.

The data shows that the most reliable broadband provider is Virgin broadband that delivers average speeds of around 8 Mbit/s whilst saying they can offer speeds up to 10 Mbit/s.

Other providers that performed well in the survey included O2 broadband and Sky broadband with average speeds reaching 5 Mbit/s.

Tiscali, according to the figures is the most unreliable of providers, offering speeds of up to 8 Mbit/s but only delivering on average just over 3 Mbit/s.

Broadband providers have been subject to criticism in recent times for their misleading advertising claims of ‘up to’ speeds when in most cases consumers can never receive these speeds.

Reacting to the news, Michael Phillips, product director at BroadbandChoice.co.uk, believes the way broadband speeds are advertised needs changing.

He said: “Broadband providers should be obliged to advertise speeds in the same way that loan advertisements detail actual percentage rates and repayments, with a ‘typical speed achieved' rather than a theoretical maximum that no one can receive.

"Our July 2009 customer complaints survey reinforces these findings, where the majority of our respondents indicated that their ISP hadn't lived up to their claims or the users' expectations regarding speed performance.

Mr Phillips adds that people in rural areas are likely to continue getting a poorer deal compared to their urban counterparts as they endure considerably slower speeds.

He added: “Ofcom's Code of Practice should mean that consumers enduring speeds significantly lower than those advertised can insist their ISP places them on a cheaper package. Customers need to exercise their rights."  

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