CAP consults on tougher standards for broadband advertising claims

The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) has published a public consultation seeking views on different options to strengthen the standards around broadband speed claims.

The current standards permit headline speed claims that are achievable by at least 10 per cent of customers, where they are preceded with the words ‘up to’ and qualified, as appropriate, to help manage consumers’ expectations of achievable speeds.

The options include speed claims based on the: peak-time median download speed; 24-hour national median download speed; range of peak-time download speeds available to the 20th to 80th percentile of users; and range of 24-hour national download speeds available to the 20th to 80th percentile of users.

Shahriar Coupal, director of CAP, said: “We take an evidenced-based approach to our work. Research commissioned by the ASA persuades us that tougher standards are needed to prevent consumers from being misled by advertised broadband speed claims.  For the next 10 weeks, we’re inviting views on four options for change, and remain open to any other options that better manage consumers’ expectations of the broadband speed they’re likely to receive. 

“CAP recognises that advertising can play an early and important part in the journey to choosing a broadband provider. We’re determined to ensure the information it provides, including about broadband speed, is trusted and welcomed by consumers”.

Cllr Gillian Brown, vice chair of the Local Government Association’s People and Places Board, said: “We are pleased that the CAP is acting on LGA calls for greater transparency around broadband speeds and fully support proposals for tougher standards around the advertising of download speeds.

“Good digital connectivity is a vital element of everyday life for residents and can help them cut household bills, shop online for cheaper goods, stay in touch with distant relatives, access their bank accounts and even run their own businesses. As central and local government services increasingly become ‘digital by default’, more people will need to have faster and more reliable speeds.

“In its current form, 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 consultation is open for 10 weeks, closing on 13 July 2017.

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