Rural areas hampered by ‘misleading’ broadband adverts

Broadband speeds advertised to customers are ‘misleading’ and do not reflect the experience of those in remote rural areas, the Local Government Association (LGA) has said.

Rules enable providers to promote ‘up to’ download speeds if they can demonstrate that just 10 per cent of their customers can achieve them, but the LGA believes that ‘up to’ should be changed to ‘on average’ when advertised.

Download speeds in many remote, rural areas fall below 2Mbps during busy internet usage periods, such as when children get home from school, during holidays and after 6pm when more than one member of a household is likely to be using the internet in some form.

The LGA has also called for upload speed to be clearly advertised alongside download speed so that customers can identify performance.

The government has issued plans for every household to have the legal right to request a broadband connection capable of delivering a minimum download speed of 10Mbps by 2020 as a Universal Service Obligation (USO). This speed will enable a family to watch a high-definition film and catch-up TV programme and make a video call simultaneously.

Cllr Mark Hawthorne, chairman of the LGA's People and Places Board, said: "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.

"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."