Get up to speed with broadband advertising

With the increase in routine ‘working from home’ this year, many consumers have been relying quite heavily on their home broadband to keep their professional lives ticking over remotely – and those with services that can’t meet their needs are likely to be in the market for an upgrade to faster speeds.  In 2018 we issued guidance on how to present broadband speeds clearly and transparently to consumers, so here’s a reminder of the key points.

The fast lane - don’t get too speedy:

Speed claims should be based on the actual experience of users and you should be able to demonstrate that that speed can be achieved by at least 50% of your customer base during peak time, defined by Ofcom as between 8pm and 10pm. This principle applies even when a speed claim appears in the product name.

The slow lane - do you need to qualify your speed claims?:

If there are factors which mean some consumers will receive speeds significantly lower than advertised, those factors needs to be clearly stated in the ad.  You can include those factors in your qualification, which should:

  • Be prominent, appearing in the main body of the ad
  • Make clear the likely effect of the relevant factor on consumers’ ability to achieve the advertised speed
  • Explain technical terms, unless those terms are widely understood by consumers or clearly explained in the ad. 

The middle lane - Careful now, hang on to your substantiation:

  • For speed testing, use methods based on relevant industry standards and data appropriate to the claim made in the ad. 
  • General speed claims should be based on activities that are representative of activities that users generally perform. 
  • The ASA will accept data that you’ve gathered and processed, or by an independent body on your behalf. 
  • Where ISPs have a large customer base, you can use an appropriate sample (which must be statistically robust) and apply statistical methods to make it representative of the actual performance of your service. 
  • The acceptability of testing based on a sample performance will depend on the context of the claim, for example, national campaigns should be based on data from your whole customer base.

If you want to avoid getting stuck on the hard shoulder with an upheld ruling, contact the Copy Advice team for appropriately speedy and free advice on your own speed claims in non-broadcast advertising.

More on

  • Keep up to date

    Sign up to our rulings, newsletters and emargoed access for Press. Subscribe now.