Real broadband speeds only half those advertised, says consumer watchdog Which?

Lloyd Doyle
May 18, 2018

Results generated from 235,000 uses of the Which? broadband speed checker tool show that, on average, customers are paying for speeds of up to 38 megabits per second but actually only receiving half that (19Mbps).

A new report from Which? found that broadband services in the United Kingdom are on average 51 per cent slower than advertised, highlighting the major discrepancies affecting users across the country.

The closest average speeds to that reportedly advertised were in the "up to 50Mbps" category, where users received just under a third of that - 35Mbps.

Current standards allow firms to advertise "up to" speeds as long as they are available to a minimum of just 10% of customers, resulting in widespread complaints from government, consumer groups and the public.

Those who paying for "up to 200Mbps" received average speeds of 52Mbps, only 26 per cent of the advertised speed.

Instead, providers must advertise the median average speed for the service that up to 50% of customers receive at peak times. Until now, service providers have been allowed to advertise "up to" speeds that are available to only a tenth of customers.

"This change in the rules is good news for customers, who have been continuously been let down by unrealistic adverts and broadband speeds that won't ever live up to expectations".

The report was published ahead of the new Advertising Standards Authority guidelines which are coming into effect today.

Ofcom estimates that around 4 million households with standard ADSL (copper) broadband are outside their minimum contract period and could upgrade to a superfast connection for the same price or less.

This is particularly relevant to BT ADSL customers who are not in a promotional discount period.

For example, the non-discounted price for BT's standard broadband service is £42.99, almost twice the price of of its superfast service, which start at £24.99 on an 18-month contract, or £35.99 for an unlimited service. By comparison, BT's superfast fibre (FTTC) broadband services start from GBP 24.99 a month. Some mobile contracts include payments for both the phone and the calls made by the customer, with the cost of the bill reducing once the cost of the phone has been paid off.

The regulator also found as many as one in five broadband customers could be missing out on upgrading to a faster service for the same price they are already paying or less.

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