Not as seen on TV

Consumers are receiving broadband at speeds significantly slower than those marketed by their internet service providers, according to an Ofcom report published yesterday.

It found that while 8Mbps broadband service are the most popular - 64% of households with internet access have them - the average speed for these homes was 3.6Mbps. However, one in five households is getting fewer than 2Mbps, while paying for an up to 8Mbps tariff.

Some ISPs have been rebuked for misleading advertising, the Financial Times says: The Advertising Standards Authority last month upheld a complaint against Tiscali, the UK's fifth largest broadband company. Some of Fiscal's press advertising about its up to 8Mbps broadband packages was found not clearly to tell consumers that actual speeds could be much less.

Ofcom highlighted the problem in December, asking ISPs to sign up to a code of conduct that stipulates that they should advise consumers of the likely download speeds they will get. However, the unstoppable rise of video down and uploads is pushing broadband to the limits of its capacity, although those who provide the networks make no money from carrying the traffic.

BT is trying to negotiate a deal with the regulator whereby it will spend £1.5 billion upgrading the national broadband network so it can transmit at speeds between 40Mbps and 100Mbps, so long as Ofcom guarantees it will get a return on investment by shielding it from competition until it has recouped the CAPEX.