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Tougher Broadband Advert Rules Start Today

Internet Service Providers have been guilty of confusing adverts which fail to properly disclose the full monthly cost of a broadband plan in a transparent way. In the past, adverts have listed a base monthly price but this could be as a promotion for so many months before the cost increases. Not only that, the details regarding traffic management, advertised speeds and installation costs lack the required clarity. The Advertising Standards Authority has investigated broadband adverts and decided to impose much stricter regulations. From today, Internet Service Providers will have to clearly show the upfront total cost without separating line rental prices. According to the ASA, this measure was taken because customers have been misled by broadband adverts for some time. The body’s chief executive Guy Parker said:

The effect should be a real positive difference in how consumers understand and engage with ads for broadband services,”

The new rules mean broadband providers will have to:

  • Show all-inclusive upfront and monthly costs, ensuring the line rental prices are not separated
  • Give greater prominence to the contrast length and post-discount pricing
  • Give greater prominence to upfront costs

Digital and Culture Minister Matt Hancock agreed with the ASA’s guidelines and added:

“Making broadband providers show all-inclusive, upfront prices in their advertisements means consumers will be much better placed to make an informed choice when deciding on a service,”

While this is a great move to allow customers to make a more informed decision, it won’t impact on the current advertising rules regarding broadband speeds. Under the current framework, broadband companies can advertise a speed providing at least 10% of users reach the quoted figure. Clearly, this is misleading and needs to be addressed.

John Williamson

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