Is your broadband lying to you?

Image of a tablet with an impressive package
Oooh I say!
"Showing enticingly high speeds which 90% of customers may not get anywhere near is just taking the mick", Tom Lewis, GoCompare
  • | by Abbie Laughton-Coles

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! The tantalising headline broadband deal catching your eye may be a devious mirage.

Unfortunately you read that right, broadband deals have been lying to you. Cheekily winking at you while flashing you their impressive package, but don't be persuaded by their wily tactics. 

It would seem that they may be all mouth and no trousers when it comes down to what really matters: speed.

The catch

Ever wondered why your super-speedy '30Mbps' broadband is stuttering its way through streaming a movie?

It could be because you're not receiving even close to that speed, thanks to a current clause which states that the face-meltingly fast speeds advertised by broadband providers need only apply to 10% of customers.

Say what?

And how do they get away with this, we hear you ask? Thanks to that devilish caveat - 'up to'.

You may have overlooked this sweet and innocent phrase while you've been shopping around for broadband. But that was a mistake.

It means that providers can charge you more for broadband speeds that your home has no chance of reaching.

That's unnecessary money you're effectively flushing down the toilet.

"Broadband advertising needs to be sorted, pronto," said Tom Lewis, GoCompare's broadband baron.

"Showing enticingly high speeds which 90% of customers may not get anywhere near is just taking the mick. If you're not receiving the top speed, why should you be paying for it?"

Fight

Never fear, though.

Riding in on its glorious steed to save the day is the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP), casting light on shady broadband practices.

The director of CAP, Shahriar Coual said: "Research commissioned by the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) persuades us that tougher standards are needed to prevent consumers from being misled by advertised broadband speed claims.

"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 broadband speed, is trusted by consumers."

About time, Coual!

So what does that actually mean?

It all sounds very promising, but what will they be doing to combat this trickery?

Well, as you're reading this, advertising standards boffins are undertaking a consultation to uncover the fairest way to present broadband speeds to potential customers.

Headline speeds will not be true for every single person, but a fairer option is urgently needed.

This may be in the form of showing the median broadband speed, which is the achievable speed for 50% of customers.

Another option could be to analyse download and upload speeds, excluding anomaly customers - for instance, those with sloth-like slow or heart-shudderingly fast broadband.

We wait with bated breath to see which option they choose…

Getting on it

Unfortunately, it may be a while before we see broadband adverts getting more transparent. It's not going to be an overnight fix. CAP will be continuing its research on the broadband market until July.

But there are steps you can take today to combat against the smoke and mirrors surrounding broadband speed.

All you need to do is check the broadband speed you're realistically able to achieve in your home using a speed checker. There's a plenty out there to choose from which will check your download and upload speed for free.

Just remember to run the check on a device using your home wi-fi and don't try it at work. You'll be bitterly disappointed when you realise that the Usain Bolt-esque speed you've been shown is actually for your office computer.

"Once you're armed with the correct speed for your home, your next stop is a comparison website," Lewis chipped in.

"There's no point in paying more than you need to, so shop around for deals with a top speed that matches what you can get chez toi."

Use Gocompare.com to find a cheap broadband deal so you know that you'll you'll actually receive what you've paid for. Easy peasy!

Have you fallen foul of the broadband speed trap? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter