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New broadband speed advert standards in force in the UK

Broadband providers in the UK are now subject to stricter rules over the claims they can make about the speed of their services.30 May 2018

New advertising guidance (12-page / 474KB PDF) came into force on 23 May and sets new standards for broadband speed claims. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has said it have regard to the guidance when assessing whether adverts containing claims about the speed of broadband services comply with UK advertising rules.

According to the new guidance, broadband providers that "make a numerical speed claim for broadband services … should be able to demonstrate that the speed is achievable for at least 50% of the relevant customer base at peak time", which is considered to be between 8pm and 10pm in the evening.

If broadband providers make claims over the speed of their services in this way they those claims are "not likely to mislead", the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) said.

"If marketers wish to make speed claims on a different basis, because of, for example, the type of technology they have used, they will need to hold evidence to show that their approach is not likely to mislead consumers," it said.

In addition, broadband providers will be required to label adverts promoting speeds achievable for at least half of their customers as the "average" speed, or alternatively use "another descriptor conveying the same meaning".

Previously, broadband providers were able to make 'up to' speed claims about their services if the speeds were achievable for at least 10% of their customers.

Guy Parker, ASA chief executive, said: "Consumers will see a difference in broadband ads that make claims about speed as this new, tougher, standard is enforced.  We’ll be making sure consumers aren’t misled by speed claims in ads, not least because choosing the right broadband deal has become such an important part of running a household or business."