Changes to broadband speed claims announced by CAP

23 November 2017
CAP announce changes to how broadband speed claims can be advertised

CAP has today announced significant changes to how broadband speed claims can be advertised.

The changes, which relate to numerical speed claims in broadband ads, now state that any claims 'should be based on the download speed available to at least 50% of customers at peak time'.

The changes follow a full public consultation and will come into effect from 23 May 2018, replacing current rules allowing advertisements with “up to” speed claims available to at least 10% of customers.

CAP has issued guidance on the key changes to the regulation, which also covers non-numerical speed claims, comparisons and upload speed claims.

The guidance is available to download here.

The changes are also supported by research from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that found 'consumers are likely to be misled by speed claims' under the current rules.

Respondents to the consultation unanimously supported change, with most arguing for median speeds measured at peak time, to be described as “average” or similar in ads, as the recommended basis for speed claims. Most respondents also favoured a single figure over a range and a peak-time measure over a 24-hour measure.

CAP considers that median peak-time download speed is the most meaningful speed measure to customers because:

  • Consumers may interpret a range as the speed they are likely to get individually, as opposed to the range that consumers generally are likely to get, and a range does not tell consumers where in the range they fall, if at all. A median speed, described as “average”, is easily understood and allows for consumers to make comparisons between different ads that they see. 
  • As peak time is when traffic volumes are highest and traffic management policies are most likely to apply, a peak-time measure provides a better indication of the actual speeds consumers are likely to experience. CAP considers that a 24-hour measurement has the potential to mislead consumers by not providing an indication of the speed they are likely to receive at the time when people use the internet the most. 

The full statement from ASA is available here.

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