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Broadband 'up to' download speeds misleading, say council chiefs

Published 10/08/2016

The Queen's Speech in May included plans to give every household a legal right to high-speed broadband
The Queen's Speech in May included plans to give every household a legal right to high-speed broadband

Broadband providers should stop using "up to" download speeds to advertise their products because they are misleading, according to council bosses.

Companies are allowed to use such headline figures in their promotional material as long as they can demonstrate that at least 10% of their customers get such speeds.

But the Local Government Association (LGA) said performance in many remote rural areas falls well below speeds of even 2Mbps (megabits per second) during busy usage periods, like after 6pm and when children get home from school.

The LGA, which represents more than 370 councils across England and Wales, believes that switching from advertising "up to" speeds to using average speeds would help paint a more accurate picture for consumers.

The LGA also believes upload speed should be clearly advertised alongside download speed because many people use their broadband connection to upload content and send large data files.

Mark Hawthorne, chairman of the LGA's People and Places Board, said: "As central and local government services increasingly become 'digital by default', more people will need to have faster and more reliable speeds.

"The headline 'up to' download speed, which can be advertised legally, is misleading and does not reflect the reality of broadband service received across the country.

"Broadband users deserve greater honesty and openness about the download and upload speeds they are likely to receive depending on their location."

The Queen's Speech in May included plans to give every household a legal right to high-speed broadband.

The Government expects an initial minimum download speed of at least 10 Mbps by 2020 under the new universal service obligation (USO) included in the Digital Economy Bill.

Councils want Ofcom to monitor the performance of connections delivered under the USO to make sure providers are meeting the speed requirements, especially during peak hours.

The LGA also wants the USO minimum speed to be set as a percentage of average national download speeds.

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