BT rapped by ASA over "inaccurate" broadband speed claims

Broadband speed

BT has incurred the wrath of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after the broadband download speeds quoted by its website were found to be inaccurate.

The telco has been ordered by the ASA to ensure its website's availability checker, which allows visitors to see if broadband services are available at their address, returns the correct data.

This was after a member of the public complained about the service, and raised concerns about whether the download speeds quoted could be substantiated.

The complainant was prompted to act after being informed by the resource they could access superfast fibre optic BT Infinity services with download speeds in the range of 23 to 33Mb.

The ASA upheld the complaint after Openreach, the engineering arm of BT, confirmed the person making the original complaint would have been unable to achieve the quoted speeds.

Despite this, BT said in its response, "the speed range was achievable by consumers" and cited a recent Ofcom broadband performance report as proof.

"[Openreach] carried out a detailed and large scale statistical analysis of possible speeds and the quoted values seen by the complainant were typical of what could be achieved by the vast majority of superfast broadband lines," BT responded.

"[It] said the speed estimate ranged from the 80th to 20th percentile for similar phone lines, therefore, 80 per cent of end users could achieve quoted speeds."

However, for "a variety of reasons" the complainant would be unable to.

The ASA has ruled the download speed claims should no longer appear, and ordered BT to ensure their availability checker returned accurate data.

"[The ASA] understood that speeds could be checked via BT's availability checker' by a specific phone number or by house number and postcode and therefore considered that consumers would expect that any resulting download speed claims would be accurate for their address," the ASA explained.

"We considered the download speeds quoted on the BT website would be a material consideration for consumers when deciding whether or not to take up BT's superfast fibre optic BT Infinity product."

IT Pro contacted BT for further comment on this story, but was still awaiting a response at the time of publication.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.