In September 2011, CAP and BCAP published a new Help Note on Speed Claims in Broadband Advertising. The Help Note was intended to ensure that consumers are not misled by broadband speed claims, for instance, “Up to 20Meg”. Today, CAP and BCAP are publishing a revised Help Note extending the scope of the guidance to cover mobile data services.

When they launched the project, CAP and BCAP committed to providing clear guidelines to all telecoms providers making speed claims in their advertisements on how to ensure that consumers are not misled. This responded to concerns that significant numbers of consumers were not achieving anywhere near the ‘up to’ speed advertised.

The key principles of the Help Note are that:

  • Advertised maximum speeds should be based on the actual experience of an ISP’s customers and
  • Advertisers should be able to demonstrate that the speeds claimed in their advertising can be achieved by a reasonable proportion of consumers.

Following the public consultation that led to the new guidance, CAP and BCAP were concerned that further work was required to ensure that the new guidance did not unfairly impact on mobile providers as a result of the significant technological distinctions between their platform and those of fixed line providers.

In making the revisions to the Help Note, CAP and BCAP have worked closely with the mobile industry and Ofcom. The objective was to maintain the original principles of the Help Note, but to ensure that they could reasonably be applied to the specific circumstances of mobile data services.

The Help Note is subject to a further three month period of grace for mobile providers to allow them an opportunity to implement any changes to their advertising and related business practices.

The ASA has agreed not to consider complaints made about mobile services under the terms of the Help Note until 1 November 2012.

Complaints about fixed line services will continue to be considered.

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