On Thursday (17th November) the ASA will publish research into the consumer understanding of "up to" broadband advertising and announce that it will review its guidance in this area to encourage a change in the way broadband speed claims are advertised.

Commenting on the announcement, James Blessing, Chair of the ISPA Council said: "The broadband market has changed dramatically in recent years and the Internet Industry fully supports the ASA’s move to bring the guidance on broadband advertising up to date. The ASA now needs to adopt an evidence-based approach to developing a revised set of rules that delivers actual benefits to consumers and takes account of developing broadband technologies.

Any new guidance needs to reflect that whilst speed is an important factor, it is not the only reason a customer decides on a deal. Crucially, the ASA's research has not identified an effective alternative for the current approach to “up to” speed claims and ISPA, alongside the wider internet industry, looks forward to supporting the ASA in developing a revised and evidence-based guidance on this and getting a workable new understanding of how speeds should be advertised.”

About the ASA's research and background facts on broadband advertising

  • The ASA's current broadband advertising standards permit headline speed claims that are achievable by at least 10% of customers, where they are preceded with the words “up to” and qualified, as appropriate, to help manage consumers’ expectations of achievable speeds.
  • The ASA qualitative study tested consumers' understanding of these claims as well as consumers’ understanding of alternative speed claims including average speed claims, range speed claims, and minimum speed claims.
  • When discussing the alternative  claims on speed, there was only a minor increase in consumer understanding, but the study did not identify sufficiently effective alternative way of conveying speeds in advertising.
  • Broadband speeds are affected by numerous factors and some of these are beyond the control of a provider such as the quality of wiring in a home or construction of a building which may affect the signal strengths of a Wi-Fi connection.
  • Most consumer-facing ISPs are compliant with Ofcom's Voluntary Code of Practice on Broadband Speeds, which ensures that consumers are provided with speed estimates before they make a final purchasing decision.