Matt Warman MP has led a Parliamentary debate calling for the Advertising Standards Authority to implement rules requiring broadband providers to ensure that the speeds they advertise are available to a majority of their customers.
According to current regulations, just 10 per cent of people who sign up for a service have to receive the advertised speed, which MPs of all parties joined Matt in criticising as misleading. He called for the ASA, who are currently reviewing this area, to bring in a rule requiring at least 50 per cent of customers to be able to receive an advertised headline speed, and called the current practices “a fraud on the consumer”.
In the debate, Matt said, “I think we can all agree that 10 per cent is not enough, and we should have different rules for the number of people who are able to receive a certain speed. We should also be clear about whether the technology is able to deliver what people are sold. I would like there to be a more accurate way of describing the number of people who are able to receive a service and much tighter and more accurate descriptions of the kind of technology that is used to deliver that service.”
Additionally, he called for a service which is advertised as fibre broadband to be an entirely fibre service, rather than part fibre, part copper. This will ensure that customers have access to the best possible connection and improve the roll-out of superfast broadband across the country.
In answering the debate, Digital Minister Matt Hancock MP agreed that current rules permit adverts that are likely to mislead, and confirmed that the Government’s new Digital Strategy commits to working to strengthen communications regulator Ofcom’s powers to provide accurate information on broadband speeds to customers.
Speaking afterwards, Matt Warman commented, “I was pleased to have such strong attendance at my debate and there is clearly cross-party and Government commitment to tackle this issue. It is a matter of fairness, and most other industries would not be able to get away with such misleading advertising. The ASA is currently reviewing the rules on broadband speed advertising and I hope that they will take my concerns on board, to ensure that more than 50 per cent of people receive the speed that they pay for and that fibre means fibre.”
- The full transcript of the debate can be found here: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2017-03-08/debates/ADC938E7-C174-4C41-A67E-DBAFF0011AFD/Broadband
- Matt’s article for Politics Home prior to the debate can be found here: https://www.politicshome.com/news/uk/technology/internet/opinion/house-commons/83978/matt-warman-mp-broadband-providers-complicit