New Guidelines for Business Broadband Providers

Business broadband speeds – and how they’re advertised – have been a hot topic over the last few years, and now the Advertising Standards Agency are stepping in to bring order to the debate. The main concern with business broadband speeds, of course, is that it’s difficult for internet service providers to give exact figures. In fact, the only way to achieve a guaranteed speed is with a leased line which is dedicated to a single business and is therefore unaffected by time, number of users, contention, and so on. With business broadband, there are many different factors that could affect the speed received.

What’s the Problem?

The problem is that the discrepancies between advertised speeds and actual speeds received are causing confusion amongst both business and domestic users, with studies finding that an understanding of broadband speeds in the UK is typically ‘low overall’, according to market research company GfK.

Businesses who require fast speeds, but do not want to commit to a leased line, are very obviously being drawn in by attractive advertised speeds, which are key for a ‘significant proportion of consumers’, according to Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) Chief Executive Guy Parker. Unfortunately, these advertised speeds are not the actual speeds they receive due to factors such as bandwidth contention.

Breaking the Rules?

Believe it or not, internet service providers (ISPs) who are unable to offer advertised speeds to all their customers are not breaking any laws. According to current regulation, an ISP is only legally required to provide advertised speeds to 10 percent of their client base, and can advertise these speeds as long as they include the words ‘up to’ before the speed figure. That’s why the ASA are now stepping in.

The ASA says that ‘speed claims in ads contribute to consumers’ expectations of the broadband speeds they’ll receive, but their expectations are not being met’, and are expected to announce changes to the advertising regulations early next year, confirming that the overall situation ‘needs to change’.

Guaranteed Speeds

Currently, the only way for a business to be 100% sure of the speeds it will receive is through the installation of a leased line. An exclusive network connecting the ISP with the business directly over leased lines, a leased line connection removes common speed obstacles, such as bandwidth sharing across multiple sites, peak usage times, and overall contention ratio. As the cost of leased lines is continuing to fall, many businesses are now finding that a leased line is the most suitable choice.

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