Changing the way Broadband is sold in Britain

With the introduction of new ‘help notes’ by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), it seems that the traditional way of flogging broadband to unsuspecting luddites is about to change, at least a little bit.

No longer can ISPs selling ADSL products simply take the theoretically fastest speed of the technology and simply say to potential customers, “your line could be up to as fast as XYZ”.

Not even the dodgiest of dodgy car salesmen would say something as ridiculous as “this car can travel at up to 200mph” just because it’s a car, and once, one car drove at 200mph.

Now broadband providers shall have to prove that at least 10% of their customers are able to achieve the speeds that they boast in any advertising.

While cynics say this will lead to broadband providers fixing the data to suit their advertising needs others are more hopeful and believe that it will push providers to improve speeds and standard of service across the board.

As the new rules don’t apply to superfast / fibre optic products there is also hope that these products will take prevalence, providing the infrastructure and money to match is put in place of course.

In the meantime, though, what are broadband providers likely to change about how they advertise their products and services?

Online won’t change much

The online marketing of broadband stands to change less than offline marketing.

One of the big benefits of online broadband marketing is that users are able to receive an an instant decision on what speed they are likely to get out of any new connection.

With print and billboard ads, until a new age of interactivity dawns it will have to be spelled out in black and white, just exactly why “you might not get what we say you think you should be able to”.

No doubt marketers will develop some nifty ways of getting round the rules which say adverts must not lead people into thinking they are getting an unlimited service, when they are not.

Whatever happens, the advertising of broadband in Britain needs to change. If these rules don’t affect that, then more must be done to ensure its broadband fact not fiction that prevails.

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Neil Hawkins is a contributing editor for consumer information site Choose (follow @choosenet). He specialises in covering broadband industry debates for the home media section, as well as commentary on market research and consumer rights issues - find more on choose.net.