Misleading broadband advertising confuses customers

Virgin Media and Enterprise UK partner to sup

Nine out of ten people find broadband advertising misleading, according to new research from ICM.

With many internet service providers (ISPs) advertising speeds of up to 20Mb or 24Mb while delivering an average speed of just 5Mb, there are high levels of consumer frustration (67%) with ISPs who routinely fail to deliver on their promises. Consumer demand for change is clear with only 2% of people finding the current approach to advertising up to speeds the most helpful when choosing a broadband provider.

The independent research, which surveyed 1000 people, identified broadband speeds as second only to price when choosing a broadband provider. But the vast majority of people (90%) find it difficult to compare different services because they cant be sure of the speed theyll actually receive.

There is an overwhelming appetite for a change with 93% of respondents agreeing that advertising rules should be changed to prevent ISPs making a speed claim unless it matches the typical real world experience of a clear majority of customers. Virgin Media defines the typical speed as the average speed received by 66% of customers over 24 hours.

Virgin Media is throwing its weight behind consumer demand for change and, in order to demonstrate its commitment to honesty about broadband speeds, will publish the typical average speeds its customers receive each month across its 10Mb, 20Mb and 50Mb services at www.virginmedia.com/speedhonesty4.

* Only 9% of people think advertised broadband speeds tend to be accurate

* Only 2% of people believe the approach of advertising up to speeds is the clearest or most helpful way to advertise broadband speeds

* 93% of people believe ISPs should only advertise the typical speed received by the majority of customers

* 94% of people believe broadband providers should advertise consistent information about broadband speeds so they can reliably compare speeds

* The research highlighted widespread cynicism towards current broadband advertising 54% of people are unsurprised when shown the difference between advertised and actual speeds

* 41% of people are willing to pay more if they can be sure of a faster broadband connection

Jon James, executive director of broadband at Virgin Media, said: People are paying for faster and faster broadband but being ripped off by unscrupulous providers who cant deliver their promised speeds to even a single customer. A change in advertising is urgently needed to build consumer confidence in super-fast broadband and the industry more generally. In the meantime, I hope other ISPs will quickly follow Virgin Medias lead by disclosing their own monthly performance data so people can make an informed decision about how to spend their money.

ICMs research comes on the heels of a recent Ofcom report that highlighted a growing gap between current up to speed claims and the speeds actually being delivered to consumers. According to Ofcom, in May 2010, DSL providers were delivering just 33% of the headline speeds promised on up to 20Mb and 24Mb packages, down from 50% of headline speeds on comparable services the year before5. Ofcoms research found that Virgin Medias up to 10Mb and up to 20Mb services delivered average speeds more than twice as fast as their DSL competitors, with around 90% of the headline speed being delivered to Virgin Media customers.

As a result, Ofcom recently issued a revised code of practice that tightens the rules on communication of broadband speeds at the point of sale but not in relation to advertising.

For more information on Virgin Media products and services visit www.virginmedia.com.

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