British households are paying for broadband services that are, on average, 51 per cent slower than advertised while millions of customers are being ripped off for using standard internet packages.
According to results generated from 235,000 uses of the Which? broadband speed-checker tool, customers are paying for speeds of up to 38 megabits per second, but actually only receiving half of that.
Meanwhile, those on super-fast packages of up to 200Mbps were on average only able to receive speeds of 52Mbps. Even customers on standard broadband packages, advertised as being ‘up to 17Mbps’, were receiving an average speed of just 6Mbps.
The research was conducted ahead of new Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) guidelines coming into effect on May 23.
The new rules will prevent broadband providers from advertising ‘up to’ speeds unless that speed is received by at least 50 per cent of their customers at peak times.
Until now, they have been able to advertise ‘up to’ speeds that are available to just 10 per cent of customers.
“This change in the rules is good news for customers, who have been continuously been let down by unrealistic adverts and broadband speeds that won’t ever live up to expectations,” said Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home services.
“We know that speed and reliability of service really matter to customers, and we will be keeping a close eye on providers to make sure they follow these new rules and finally deliver the service that people pay for.”
Minister for Digital Margot James added: “The new advertising rules are great for consumers – headline ‘up to’ speeds that only need to be available to 10 per cent of consumers are incredibly misleading.
“Customers need clear, concise and accurate information in order to make an informed choice.”
Meanwhile, an investigation by Ofcom has found that four million households in Britain are paying more for standard internet packages which are up to 100 per cent more expensive than ‘superfast’ deals.
The regulator said this is particularly relevant to BT ADSL customers who are not in a promotional discount period. Over the past two years they have seen their prices rise by around 80 per cent a month, to £42.99. However, BT’s superfast services start at £24.99 a month.
Ofcom’s research also showed some mobile customers could be over-paying for their phones. Some mobile contracts include payments for both the phone and the calls made by the customer, with the cost of the bill reducing once the cost of the phone has been paid off.