Ofcom moves to stop misleading broadband advertising

Ofcom, the communications watchdog, has published a code of conduct to stop internet service providers (ISPs) from advertising “misleading” broadband speeds. The code was published today (June 5).

Ofcom says 32 ISPs – covering 90% of broadband customers – have signed up to the code. They include giants such as AOL Broadband, O2 home broadband, BT Total and Virgin Media. The regulator will now launch a broadband speeds survey to identify actual speeds compared to advertised headline speeds.

ISPs have frequently come under fire from the Adverting Standards Authority for “misleading” consumers, including a case involving Virgin Media’s press ads last August that stated its own offering was faster than BSkyB’s.

The terms of the new code include providing consumers with an accurate maximum speed at the point of sale, as well as giving customers the option to move to a lower speed package when estimates are inaccurate.

The regulator has also launched a programme of independent research to identify the actual speeds of broadband for consumers. The move follows research, which showed consumer satisfaction of ISPs has fallen over the last year.

Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards, says: “Broadband is a thriving market in the UK. We want to encourage real clarity for consumers about the actual broadband speeds they receive.”

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