Broadband providers should not use 'up to' speed claims to sell services after the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said that it "lacks transparency" and is "confusing" for consumers.
The Local Government Association earlier this year called for a ban on misleading broadband adverts, and the ASA now wants more changes to ISPs' advertising of 'up to' speeds.
The ASA's research shows that just 10 per cent of broadband users receive the headline speeds quoted by ISPs, and that many are unclear about what these numbers mean for them and what speeds they are likely to receive.
ASA chief executive Guy Parker said: "Making sure ads don't mislead is at the heart of what we do. We've taken action this year to tackle confusing broadband pricing, to the benefit of consumers.
"Our new research indicates that speed claims in ads contribute to consumers’ expectations of the broadband speeds they’ll receive, but their expectations are not being met. That needs to change."
The ASA has called for changes to ensure that consumers are not misled, and the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), which sets the standards, has announced it is to review its guidance to advertisers and report back in the spring next year.
Shahriar Coupal, director at CAP, said that the organisation welcomed the ASA's research.
"The research provides good insights into consumers' understanding of broadband speed claims, but it doesn’t identify an obvious alternative way to communicate speeds that would be suitable to everybody’s needs," he said.
"It also tells us that consumers believe that advertising can only do so much, which underpins the importance of detailed broadband speed information being provided elsewhere.
"CAP will take these findings and other information into account in its review of the guidance to ensure that broadband providers aren’t over-promising on their speed claims."
A ruling a few weeks ago means that ISPs must bundle upfront and monthly costs into one monthly price and ensure that line rental fees are included from May this year, following pressure from the ASA.
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