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ISPs Must Make Broadband Speeds Clearer

What happened? 

Ofcom has told ISPs to be clearer about potential broadband speeds during sales phone calls. 'Mystery shopper' tests revealed that staff were not telling would-be customers early enough in the conversation what speeds to expect.

Sales staff in more than half of calls from TalkTalk and BT didn't reveal speed details until customers asked for them. BT played down the report, saying fixing the problem would require only "a minor change" to its current sales calls.

Meanwhile, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) told TalkTalk to make it clearer that broadband speeds estimated by its online speed-test checker could be slowed by a variety of factors, after a customer complained the test results were "misleading".

How will it affect you? 

Hopefully, next time you phone an ISP, you'll be quickly told what speeds to expect, which should make shopping for broadband a little easier.

It’s useful for you to know which ISPs are being open about broadband speeds - Sky and Plusnet performed well in the tests. Read Ofcom's report at bit.ly/ofcom293.

What do we think? 

Ofcom and ASA are doing a better job of urging ISPs to be more honest about broadband speeds, but it's still too easy to confuse customers. If you speak to sales staff at, say, TalkTalk, and then check the company's website, you should be left with a clear idea of what speed its broadband will be. But Ofcom's 'mystery shopper' test suggests that this is not happening.

We wouldn't accept such a massive discrepancy between what is promised and what is actually delivered from another utility, such as electricity, so it definitely shouldn't still be happening with broadband. We would like Ofcom and the ASA to crack down harder.