Broadband providers under cosh of new ad rules next week

BroadbandMarketing
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But campaigners are calling for much more to make the broadband industry ‘honest’

From next Monday (31 October), all UK broadband providers will be obliged to change the way they advertise fixed-line broadband packages.

The ruling by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) will force providers to include line rental in the headline price, as well as prominently display any up-front costs.

BT-infinity-house-2 Home BroadbandThe original ruling came on 4 May this year, but it will not be enforced until next Monday. The ruling was based on findings from research commissioned jointly by Ofcom and the ASA.

The research found that 81 percent of people shown a broadband advert were unable to calculate the total contract cost.

Sky and BT have already changed the way their costs are advertised from today (28 October).

“This change to a more honest pricing policy is a good start, but we have a long way to go yet,” said Dan Howdle, telecoms expert and director of communications at consumer telecoms advice and comparison website Cable.co.uk.

Howdle warned: “Even under these new rules, providers are still able to splinter off costs like internet security and whether you’re able to watch your TV service in high definition. It’s the nature of the industry – providers will always do whatever they can to make things appear cheaper than they actually are.”

He said advertised “up to” speeds were also “simply fiction for many”.

“Ofcom and the ASA are going to announce possible changes to the way speeds are advertised later this year, but it all seems like tremendously hard work just to get the broadband industry to act with honesty and integrity.

“Providers concerned that these rules somehow pull the claws from their marketing efforts need to ask themselves: If the prices advertised match exactly those customers are expected to pay, and a realistic speed range is offered, would anyone buy any less broadband?”

@AntonySavvas