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ASA report into broadband advert speed claims expected this week
Monday 26 September 2011 13:01:45 by John Hunt

A leaked report seen by the Independent states that the ASA will allow broadband suppliers to advertise speeds claims for their products only if 10% of customers can actually receive these speeds. The ASA launched a review last year in to how broadband products were advertised and this was carried out by CAP and BCAP on their behalf. A small caveat though, the ASA have told PC Pro that there are inaccuracies within the Independent's story but they wouldn't say which bits were inaccurate. The full report is expected to be published this week, which will give a clearer picture of where the industry will stand.

Broadband providers are also expected to have to clearly state in adverts what speed range 20% of customers and 80% of their customers receive and the average speed should be shown within the main part of the advert. More information for consumers is a good thing, but there needs to be a sensible way of getting the information out that will not be confusing.

The guidance within the report are also expected only to apply to broadband providers who use copper wire. This would therefore encompass all existing broadband products, including Virgin Media's cable products, but would exclude those delivered over Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH). These don't suffer from slow downs in the same way as DSL based products as the speed is guaranteed from the end user to the local distribution point, but congestion and contention could occur elsewhere. Mobile broadband and satellite products will be excluded, but this is a sensible decision as it is harder to predict the speed of these.

There is no mention by the Independent of the study that was occurring alongside this which was looking at the use of 'unlimited' usage limits and whether products that had fair-usage policies / traffic management could continue to use this wording.


Posted by cyberdoyle over 5 years ago
Great. That should be interesting.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
Hopefully it will make it easy for people to understand the difference between connection speed and throughput speed.
Posted by craigbrass over 5 years ago
It always amazes me about how people clearly don't understand the words "UP TO". My car does Up To 145mph but that doesn't mean I am able to drive everywhere at that speed!

Ofcom / ASA should be focussing on :-
1. Net Neutrality only allowing time critical traffic to be prioritised.
2. End of the Unlimited broadband claims unless the provider allows the line to operate at full speed without any slowdowns other than congestion when too much is used. They would also not be allowed to kick users off for using too much. Would stop unlimited overnight.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
Either stop unlimited, or just lead to some selling it, and letting congestion handle the peak loads, i.e. big peak to off peak changes in speed and latency.

Time Critical needs to be defined very clearly, and would be a moving target.
Posted by herdwick over 5 years ago
confusing rate adaptive ADSL with fixed speed cable services ? Cable doesn't use "copper wire" ?

FTTH and CATV based services are the same in this regard.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
Cable used metallic cable from the cabinet, which is generally steel with copper tinning, or copper core.

So if report talks of copper wires, then CATV is covered by it.

Better distinction would have been, fixed rate connection, versus variable rate connection. A more technology neutral definition.

Posted by herdwick over 5 years ago
they've failed if they talk of copper wires without differentiating twisted pair phone lines from coax CATV.

Dumb Britain, the Idiocracy rules.

I really don't beleive they understand the difference between fixed and rate adaptive. As advertisers they think what it's advertised as is in some way factual and accurate. LOL.
Posted by craigbrass over 5 years ago
Well CATV should be excluded on the grounds that the limits on where their street head ends are in the spec anyway. If anybody is finding lower than 20% of their headline speed, there is generally a fault on the line...
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
If Docsis presented networks are excluded, and even fibre it might make people more wary of them, i.e. people may simply assume firms are trying to hide information. Not knowing this is the ASA rules.
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
@craigbrass:Ah but what about contention (esp. upstream) on cable? VM is not immune to contention.

Comes back to the old problem:Distinguishing between sync speed and throughput.
Posted by WWWombat over 5 years ago
Use of copper, or a technology-neutral definition, doesn't help in the long run.

If there is any point in the network where contention exists, then the rules need to cover the end-end performance as experienced by the consumer.

FTTH shouldn't get free-rein here: contention in the backhaul, or in the ISP network, is still a possibility. Advertising needs to take into account *everything*, and not just the (well-known) discrepancy of sync-speeds.
Posted by craigbrass over 5 years ago
@AndrueC: Speed tests are always given priority, though :)
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
Should be interesting indeed. How many ISP's can boast that 10% of their user base gets 24Mbps or 20Mbps

Can't be very many if any?
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
And I don't think anything should be excluded not even mobile or satellite, why is it right to advertise mobile speeds of XMbps if your too far away from your local mast to get that speed?

The underlying technology (wireless, copper, coax, fibre etc etc) is just one (albeit important) part of the whole package. If 10% of your customer base can't get the advertised speeds for that product you can't advertise it at those speeds.

Still doesn't help thought I mean.... it still doesn't mean you can get those speeds in your area even if 10% can :)
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago
Hmmm.... but this won't allow for like-for like coverage.
BT automatically gets stuffed because no other ISPs are in the worst exchanges, this drags down their speeds. Whilst all other ISPs are artificially faster as they won't touch the un-commercial exchanges which would "damage" their speeds.
Posted by mervl over 5 years ago
Won't this just confuse the average joe, or is that the intention? We will have top 10%, 80%, and average (of what) and the (current) line speed estimate! Another example of mission creep perhaps, with the ASA trying to do the regulators job.

If the figures are manipulated as much as line speed estimates are . . .

And I agree, bye-bye to those left on exchanges not viable for ADSL2/FTTx services.
Posted by mervl over 5 years ago
or actually could it have been written in the TalkTalk marketing department?
Posted by fibrebunny over 5 years ago
So will they be using national averages or ISP specific? If ISP A has a higher average than ISP B then how are they to compete in advertising, other than ISP B manipulating its customer base. For example by only accepting higher quality lines. People will go for the higher average without knowing an better.
Posted by michaels_perry over 5 years ago
I do wish they would force a differentiation between services provided via cable and by ADSL. Virgin Media offer both but it is always the cable speeds that are quoted. Our ADSL speeds are much, much slower than they are quoting. OfCom need to make sure comparisons are on a like-for-like basis to give a reasonable basis for choice.
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