ASA/CAP Broadband Guidelines Will Lead To More Confusion

Darren-Farnden-Entanet.JPG

Wholesale voice and data communications provider, Entanet, has once again raised concerns over the new guidelines published by the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) and CAP (Committee of Advertising Practice), which are set to change the way providers advertise broadband speeds and ‘unlimited’ broadband from 1st April 2012.

The new guidelines will see a significant change to the way in which broadband providers advertise broadband speeds. The current practice of advertising speeds based on the theoretical maximum the technology can achieve, e.g. ‘up to 24Mbps for ADSL2+’ will no longer be acceptable. Instead, providers must advertise their packages based on the speeds that at least 10 percent of their customer base actually achieve, updating this information every six months whilst also reiterating within their communications that the customer may not actually achieve such speeds due to signal attenuation and/or traffic management policies.

Entanet’s Head of Marketing, Darren Farnden, says: “While we commend the ASA and CAP in their attempt to protect end users from potentially misleading marketing communications and agree with their guidelines on ‘unlimited’ broadband, we believe the new directives on advertising broadband speeds will only result in greater confusion. End users could end up having to digest and decipher a multitude of different speed statements, based on national or regional campaigns, or peak- and off-peak times. Not only that, the speeds quoted will only be representative of what has actually been experienced by around 10 percent of customers.

“Additionally, we have concerns over ISPs rejecting orders from rural locations in a bid to keep their headline speeds high. Equally, these new guidelines are likely to affect ISPs that have a predominantly rural customer base, as they mayappear less attractive to potential customers when compared to national providers or those targeting urban areas where higher average speeds can be achieved.”

The changes also have an obvious impact for resellers who supply broadband from multiple wholesale providers. They will need to advertise separate headline speeds depending on the wholesale provider that is providing the service. Farnden states: “Reassuringly for Entanet’s resellers, they will have access to a report via Entanet’s partner interface, synergi, which will provide the speed information they need to accurately advertise within the new guidelines.

“We will be closely monitoring the impact these new guidelines have within the industry and on end users when they take effect in April. Hopefully we can go back to the ASA and illustrate their short-comings. As we suggested in our opinion blog (http://opinion.enta.net), we believe the best approach would be for providers to show the percentage of users that achieve a meaningful percentage (e.g. 90 percent) of their sync speed and throughput. This would highlight where end users are likely to experience poor service because of highly congested networks.”