Ofcom has called for sweeping changes to the way broadband speeds are advertised, after finding download rates are typically half the figure promoted.
The UK regulator proposes service providers publish typical speeds range (TSR) information in any adverts based on data rates, and that the TSR information should be displayed as prominently as the maximum figure in those promotions.
It also wants to see maximum data rates publicized only if the figure has been reached by a “material number of consumers,” and will set out what it believes are realistic TSRs for each broadband technology.
Research conducted as part of a government consultation on broadband speed advertising found the average broadband speed in the UK was 6.2 Mbps in November and December, up from 5.2Mbps in May 2010, but less than half the average advertised speed of 13.8 Mbps.
Ofcom conducted 18 million service performance tests in 1,700 homes, which it claims represents 90% of residential broadband users in the UK.
ADSL was the worst offender in technology terms, with services advertised as up to 8Mbps typically hitting 2Mbps to 5Mbps. Cable connections up to 20 Mbps performed best, with a TSR of 18 Mbps to 19Mbps, while up to 40Mbps FTTC services averaged 30 Mbps to 36 Mbps.
ISPs gave a mixed reaction to Ofcom’s calls, with some noting that using the phrase “up to” in their data rate advertising covers all bases, while others focused on the fact that average speeds are on the up, ISPReview.co.uk reports.