Ofcom thinks UK's ISPs aren't being honest about advertised speeds

Ofcom, the UK's telecom regulator, believes that the UK's broadband providers aren't being honest about the speeds they deliver to consumers. Research revealed that about 97 percent of the nation's broadband users are actually getting speeds much lower than advertised.

Similar to the U.S., UK-based service providers also include the "up to" disclaimer to clarify that the condition of copper facilities, for example, can affect the actual speed of a DSL line.

While Ed Richards, CEO of Ofcom, recognizes the physical and technical challenges of delivering broadband service, the phrase "up to" is misleading since only a small fraction of users actually get those advertised speeds. 

A number of UK-based providers advertise up to 11.5 Mbps, but the actual average speed range subscribers are actually receiving lies between 4.1 Mbps to 5.2 Mbps. The survey also revealed that subscribers that only two percent of consumers that bought an "up to" 20 Mbps service tier, with 32 percent getting 8-14 Mbps and 65 percent 8 Mbps or below.

To bridge what Richard says is a growing "gap between the average headline speed and actual speed," Ofcom wants ISPs to follow a "Code of practice" that will spell out what exactly users will get from their respective broadband service. Given the competitive nature of the UK's broadband market with over 300 retail providers, including big names such as BT (NYSE: BT), Carphone Warehouse and Virgin, being honest with consumers could be a welcome change of clarity.

For more:
- see this BBC article

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