ISPs accused of being misleading

A broadband shopper test conducted by communications regulator Ofcom has revealed that customers are being misinformed by several major UK internet service providers (ISPs) about their broadband speeds. The report states that customers are not being told upfront about the speeds they can expect from their Internet connection and warns that advertised speeds are not achievable for most customers.

There are several factors that can affect the broadband speeds that a customer can expect to get. How near the user lives to the telephone exchange, the quality of the telephone line and even the time of day the user is accessing the Internet can all affect the speed provided to the user. However, Ofcom believes that users can be better informed of the speeds they should expect if all ISPs offer speed tests.

A speed test can offer an accurate and personalised estimate to users, but mystery shoppers found that providers were not doing enough to offer them to users. The worst offenders were TalkTalk and BT, as they offered users a speed estimate without prompting in only less than half of the cases. Other ISPs fared better, and the providers who were most likely to prompt callers with a speed tests were Karoo (76 per cent), Sky (72 per cent) and Plusnet (67 per cent).

The findings of the study warns ISPs that consumers need to be provided with more information. As speed is the principal factor which determines a customer’s decision to choose a broadband provider, more speed tests need to be provided unprompted. Many customers are unaware that they will not be receiving the advertised maximum speeds and are likely to assume these are the speeds they should expect from the service. Customers need to be provided with speed tests prior to purchasing broadband so that they know what to expect from their providers.