Broadband: Not getting the speed you pay for?

If you’re frustrated by the speed of your broadband, then you’re not alone - new Ofcom research shows that the average speeds received by households are less than half the average speeds advertised.

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The watchdog tested speeds in November and December last year, and found the average broadband speed was 6.2 Mega bits a second (Mbit/s).

That’s less than half of the average advertised broadband speed, which is a much more attractive 13.8Mbit/s.

The good news is that Ofcom has a solution. It’s calling on the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA), which is currently consulting on the issue of broadband speeds, to consider changing the rules on how companies advertise.

What does Ofcom want to change?

Instead of simply advertising ‘up to’ speeds, Ofcom wants companies to also display the typical speeds range achieved.

This figure would be the range of speeds achieved by at least half of a provider’s customers and the watchdog believes this should get equal prominence to any advertised ‘up to’ speeds.

Ofcom chief executive, Ed Richards, said: “‘It is important that the rules around broadband advertising change so that consumers are able to make more informed decisions based on the adverts they see, and that advertisers are able to communicate more clearly how their products compare to others in the market.”

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Voluntary changes on the horizon

In July this year, most internet service providers (ISPs) will become more transparent about broadband speeds.

Companies that are signed up to the Voluntary Broadband Speeds Code of Practice have committed to telling new customers what speed they can realistically achieve from their homes.

If a customer’s speed is significantly below that estimate, they can leave within the first three months without paying a penalty.

All the major suppliers are committed to this development.

What can you do now?

It’s likely to be a while before any changes are made to how providers advertise broadband speeds, but you can take action now.

Use our free gadget to test your broadband speeds and to see what kind of service your neighbours are getting from different providers.

This is a really simple test but if you need some guidance, watch our video ‘How to test your broadband speed’.

If you’re close to the end of your broadband contract then this can help you work out which new provider will be best for you.

But if you’re trapped in a contract and not getting the advertised speeds, it’s worth talking to your ISP.

Ask if there is anything it can do to speed up your connection. If there isn’t, ask to be put onto a cheaper package that more accurately reflects the service you receive.

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