Ofcom Consumer Panel asks for code of practice to prevent misleading advertising of broadband speeds

21 December 2007 / by None
Broadband providers have been under fire in recent months for advertising broadband speeds that they do not deliver, and Ofcom – the consumer watchdog – is being urged to make providers change their ways or stop advertising broadband speeds which many customers do not have access to.

The Ofcom Consumer Panel – an independent voice for the interests of the consumer within the communications market – has asked the regulator to take further action in instigating a code of practice for ISPs (internet service providers) to address the issues faced by consumers as a result of misleading advertisements about broadband speeds.

Colette Bowe, Chairman of the Ofcom Consumer Panel, said "We would like to see Ofcom leading discussions with the industry to produce an enforceable code of practice that would be mandatory for ISPs. This code would establish agreed processes to give the customer the best information during and after the sales process, and to give them flexibility to move freely to different packages that reflect the actual speeds with which their ISPs are able to provide them."

Ms Bowe has requested that this code of practice include information for consumers to help them make the right choice when picking an ISP, such as the theoretical and practical line speeds which they can realistically expect to receive, the factors which can affect line speeds, and see that customers who cannot receive the advertised line speeds are allowed to switch to a different provider without incurring a penalty.

The Consumer Panel Chairman also wants to see improvement in the advertising of broadband speeds. “I will be requesting that Advertising Standards Authority, working with industry, considers how the range of factors affecting broadband speeds can be given much greater prominence in advertising material." he said. "We believe that clearer information in advertising of broadband speeds and the associated packages would greatly increase customer satisfaction. "

Richard Mason, director at moneysupermarket.com, said: "Whilst we welcome the recommendations from Ofcom’s Consumer Panel, we’re still yet to see any action taken by the industry regulator itself. Ofcom has consulted the ISPs, it has speed research at its disposal, and now it is being urged by its own Consumer Panel to put something in place. However, it is still stalling.

"A study by moneysupermarket.com highlighted six out of 10 (61 per cent) people chose their provider based on the speed they were offered. Yet shockingly, a further survey of 43,000 broadband users reveals that only 44 per cent of people get half the speed they signed up to."

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