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Which? calls for tighter regulations on broadband speed claims

A report issued by the consumer group Which? has found that there is a “huge” gap between publicised broadband speeds and what most users get, with some customers on 8Mb packages actually getting as little as 0.09Mb it has emerged.

Following two weeks of intensive speed testing, Which? has called on Ofcom and Trading Standards to investigate connection speed claims, after finding that the average speed “enjoyed” by customers on 8Mb packages was only 2.7Mb.

Which.co.uk editor Malcolm Coles said: “It’s shocking that internet service providers can advertise ever-increasing speeds that seem to bear little resemblance to what most people can achieve in reality.”

Michael Phillips, product director at BroadbandChoices.co.uk, commented: “These customers would be better off saving themselves some money and going for a 2Mb or 4Mb package where they could actually get the speeds they’re paying for.

“We carried out over 100,000 of our own speed tests last month, and found that the average customer only got 39 per cent of their promised speed.

“But because providers advertise these packages as ‘up to 8Mb’ they seem to be able to get away with providing much lower speeds as standard.

“Factors like distance from the exchange and poor quality wiring degrade the broadband connection and reduce the customer’s speed but many people are unaware of this and go for the top packages thinking they will get broadband at 8Mb. However, broadband providers can check this information to see the realistic speed each individual customer should receive.

“We need transparency from providers on the kind of speeds customers can actually expect to get, rather than flashy advertising and ever increasing ‘top speeds’,” he added.

Which? carried out broadband connection speed tests over a two week period with more than 300 customers who used 27 different broadband firms.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at ITProPortal.com where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.