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New rules are killing deceptive broadband ads in the UK

Advertised speeds for low-cost plans have dropped 41 percent.
Steve Dent, @stevetdent
August 8, 2018
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Nearly every telecom in the UK has reduced advertised broadband speeds thanks to new rules, according to consumer watchdog Which?. Until recently, telecoms were allowed to brag about peak speeds that were available to only one in ten users. Last year, however, the Advertising Standards Association (ASA) ordered them to show average speeds available to half of all customers at peak hours. As a result, the cheapest packages now show speeds of 10 or 11 Mbps, rather than "up to 17 Mbps" -- a 41 percent drop.

Overall, advertised speeds from the 12 biggest providers across all types of packages up to 100 Mbps dropped by 15 percent. One company, TalkTalk, completely eliminated advertised speed claims and another (Vodafone) has removed the word "Fiber" from two offers. Only Virgin Media, which made a point of knocking rivals over dubious claims, increased its advertised speeds.

The ASA launched the new rules after finding that British broadband users were paying for internet packages that were 51 percent slower than advertised. It created a similar rule last year that forced providers to include phone line rentals in advertised ADSL broadband prices.

In the US, meanwhile, internet can't be advertised as "broadband" unless it offers at least 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload speeds. The FCC, under industry-friendly chairman Ajit Pai, was thinking of rolling back that rule, but thankfully, backed off.

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