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UK local govt body blasts misleading broadband speed ads

Won't someone please think of the farmers

The representative body for 370 councils in Blighty has hit out at Internet Service Providers (ISPs) for advertising misleading broadband speeds, particularly in rural areas.

Current rules allow providers to promote "up to X" download speeds if they can demonstrate that at least 10 per cent of their customers can achieve them. But the LGA noted that speeds in many remote periodically fall "well below" 2Mbps.

Mark Hawthorne, Chairman of the LGA's People and Places Board, said: "The headline ‘up to' download speed, which can be advertised legally, is misleading and does not reflect the reality of broadband service received across the country. Broadband users deserve greater honesty and openness about the download and upload speeds they are likely to receive depending on their location."

The government has pledged to give everybody the legal right to request a broadband connection capable of delivering a minimum download speed of 10Mbps by 2020, as a Universal Service Obligation.

About a million households will be unable to access a 10Mbps service by 2017, after the government completes its deployment of superfast broadband to 95 per cent of the population by next year.

Councils say Ofcom must monitor the performance of connections delivered under the USO to assess whether providers are adhering to its specifications, especially during peak hours.

Earlier this year, regulatory body the Advertising Standards Authority said it was "strengthening" its approach to advertised fixed broadband price claims to avoid customers being misled.

In January it published joint research with Ofcom which found that the current approach to presenting pricing in fixed broadband ads is likely to "confuse and mislead consumers".

The study found that only 23 per cent of participants could correctly identify the total cost per month after the first viewing of and ad.

From 31 October 2016 misleading broadband advertising will break advertising rules. As such the ASA is recommending that: advertisers show all-inclusive up-front and monthly costs; do not separate line rental costs; and give greater prominence to upfront costs and contract length.

This week Vodafone became the first broadband provider to abolish its line rental fees. ®

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