Brands welcome new broadband ad rules aimed at preventing ‘misleading’ speed claims

The ad regulator is introducing changes to how broadband providers can advertise service speeds that it hopes will “improve customer confidence” in the sector.

The ad regulator is looking to cut down on ‘misleading’ advertising by internet service providers (ISPs) by making major changes to the way broadband speed claims can be advertised.

The Committee of Advertising Practices (CAP) says any numerical speed claims featured in future broadband ads must now be based on the speed available to at least 50% of a brand’s customers at peak time, with this messaging branded as “average” speeds. This marks a considerable change from current regulations, where speeds are based on what’s available to at least 10% of customers at peak time and branded as “up to” speeds.

In another bid to increase transparency around broadband speeds, CAP is also recommending ISPs such as BT and Virgin Media that offer speed-checking facilities (such as those provided on their websites) must promote this feature in their ads wherever possible.

This guidance will take effect from 23 May 2018, with the industry given a six-month implementation period to fully prepare for the changes.

READ MORE: Broadband providers face new ad crackdown on ‘misleading’ speeds

“There are a lot of factors that affect the broadband speed a customer is going to get in their own home; from technology to geography, to how a household uses broadband,” says Shahriar Coupal, director of the CAP.

“While we know these factors mean some people will get significantly slower speeds than others; when it comes to broadband ads, our new standards will give consumers a better understanding of the broadband speeds offered by different providers when deciding to switch providers. We hope our new standards will improve customer confidence in future ads.”

The UK’s biggest ISP BT has welcomed the changes. A spokesperson says: “It’s important that customers know they’ll receive the advertised speed in peak time when customers place the highest demands on the network. We will continue to provide personalised speed range estimates as part of our sales process, so that individual customers know clearly what is possible for their home connection.”

This sentiment was echoed by a spokesperson from Virgin Media: “We have repeatedly called for a change in these unfair and misleading advertising rules. At last, the majority of customers will now know what speeds they can realistically expect from their broadband provider, not just a small minority.”

Coupal says the CAP was prompted to make the changes after research from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) showed consumers were more likely to be “materially misled” by the advertising of speed claims that followed the CAP’s previous guidance.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here