In April 2012 a new set of CAP and BCAP guidelines came into effect, requiring ADSL, VDSL and cable service providers to only quote speeds that 10% or more of their customers could achieve in adverts (full fibre, FTTP services are not mentioned). By and large those providers advertising have complied, and the world did not fall apart, the end result being ADSL2+ services now advertise in the 13 to 16 Mbps range, and cable services remain unchanged due to their fixed speed connection.
This adoption by the industry without the need for a bigger stick has lead those who write the guidelines that advertisers should follow to extend the guidance to also cover mobile broadband services.
"Where advertisers make a numerical speed claim that is likely to be understood by consumers as the maximum speed of their service, they should be able to demonstrate that the speed is achievable for at least 10% of the relevant customer base.
The Help Note covers marketing communications for fixed-line broadband services, such as DSL, VDSL and cable, and mobile data services.
The reference to mobile data services is primarily focused on mobile network operators’ radio access networks over which services, which allow access to the internet using a dedicated mobile broadband SIM or from a mobile phone, either as a stand-alone device or as a modem tethered to another device, may be delivered, for instance, HSPA (High Speed Packet Access) and LTE (Long Term Evolution).
The primary focus of the Help Note is on marketing communications that make maximum claims in the form of a numerical speed claim, for instance, “Up to 10Mb Broadband”, but it also applies to other approaches used to indicate the maximum speed of a service, such as “superfast”."Key Points from BCAP Use of speed claims in broadband advertising help note
A three month grace period has been given for mobile broadband providers to come into line with the new guidance, so by November 2012 the technical maximum speed will vanish from dongle and phone adverts.
Measuring mobile broadband speeds is even more of a less precise science than fixed line broadband, as a few metres in any direction can give very different results. The BCAP note does recognise that being indoors or outdoors has a big effect on mobile broadband speeds. At least these new rules have come into effect before mobile 4G services hit the market, and may curb some of the over enthusiastic advertising that can accompany new to market devices.