British MPs have claimed that broadband ads are misleading, with just 10% actually getting the advertised speeds. A cross-party group of 50 MPs called the British Infrastructure Group (BIG) have strongly criticised the way that broadband is advertised in the UK. The British Infrastructure Group (BIG) says that advertising speeds that only 10% of customers [...]

British MPs have claimed that broadband ads are misleading, with just 10% actually getting the advertised speeds.


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A cross-party group of 50 MPs called the British Infrastructure Group (BIG) have strongly criticised the way that broadband is advertised in the UK. The British Infrastructure Group (BIG) says that advertising speeds that only 10% of customers can achieve is a “scandal”.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) currently says that broadband providers can advertise speeds that at least 10% of customers can see.
That means that up to 90% may not get a connection that fast - for example, in reality the user is unlikely to actually get 17Mb download speeds on a standard broadband package.
The BIG has called on the ASA to reform broadband advertising, and launched a new campaign to put an end to the ads. It also believes that customers should be able to leave contracts and be awarded compensation if they have been lured into signing up for a package by misleading ads.
The Advertising Standards Authority said it was aware of concerns about speeds and would consider further work.
The report from the infrastructure group, which was set up by former Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps, said consumers had "very few rights and protections" they can turn to if they are "poorly treated" by their internet service provider.
"Consumers must be given the power to hold their internet service provider to account when they let them down or outright mislead them into signing a contract that makes promises that bear no resemblance to the later reality," its report said.
"BIG will therefore be campaigning for mandatory refunds for anyone who has been mis-sold a broadband contract.
"Consumers also need the power to leave contracts if they are found to have been misled."
The group highlighted that there was no minimum level of compensation if customers received a poor service.
'Rightly a political issue'
"Broadband provision hasn't lived up to expectations. Providers like Virgin have been getting away with over promising and under delivering for years," explains Danny Meadows-Klue, chief executive of the Digital Strategy Consulting group and one of the founding members of the Creative Industries task force that drove part of the original UK vision for a "Broadband Britain".
"The speeds offered to consumers are the "theoretical" speeds and while it's reasonable to assume you might not get exactly that speed because connections are shared with many properties in your street, in practice some customers regularly get only 1/10th of what's advertised. Add to that the notoriously poor customer service experience that can make fault reporting onerous, and it's easy to see why this has rightly become a political issue."
Ofcom has asked internet service providers to sign up to a voluntary code of conduct, requiring them to provide consumers with more information on broadband speeds, but BIG added that regulators need greater powers to "take real robust action" against providers who mislead customers.
Last week, the government backtracked over its promise for everyone in Britain to have faster internet connections by 2020.