Ofcom tackles misleading data rates

UK ISPs are short-changing customers by failing to deliver headline connection speeds, regulator Ofcom said today.
It claims that 97% of subscribers endure a slower connection than they pay for, and that the gap between the speed ISPs promise and what is actually delivered is growing.
The regulator is updating its voluntary code of practice for ISPs and seeking a change in the way broadband is sold in the country to address the issue.
Research conducted in conjunction with broadband monitoring firm SamKnows reveals that 24% of UK homes had headline speeds of up to 10Mbps in May, compared to 8% in April 2009, but that the average speed received in reality was 3.3Mbps for DSL lines.
The gap for DSL packages advertised as up to 24Mbps was even greater, with consumers typically receiving just 6.5Mbps.
Cable lines fared better, with 10Mbps services averaging 8.7Mbps in the real world, and 20Mbps services delivering 15.7Mbps.
Ofcom’s revised code of practice.requires ISPs to provide consumers with more accurate estimates of the maximum speed they are likely to receive, to help customers boost their speeds and to allow them to leave without penalty if data rates cannot be improved in the first three months of a contract.
All leading ISPs in the country have signed up to the code, Ofcom said.
The regulator also wants providers to include a typical speed range in advertising if selling based on connection speeds.
“Actual speeds are often much lower than many of the advertised speeds, which makes it essential that consumers are given information which is as accurate as possible,” Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards said.