MOST BROADBAND providers have been forced to cut the speeds they advertise when selling deals, following recent changes to advertising rules to prevent misleading claims.

New analysis by the consumer organisation Which? shows that since the new rules were introduced by the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) in May, 11 major suppliers have had to cut the advertised speed of some of their deals, with the cheapest deals dropping by an average 41 per cent.

It comes amid ongoing concerns that Scotland is lagging behind England when it comes to actual superfast broadband speeds.

Just over a week ago Westminster’s Scottish Affairs committee called on the UK and Scottish Governments to work together following political squabbling over the roll-out of broadband north of the Border.

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For the last three months, home broadband providers have had to ensure that at least 50% of their customers can achieve advertised speeds at peak time.

Before that firms had been allowed to advertise “up to” speeds as long as they were available to a minimum of just 10% of customers, resulting in widespread complaints from Government, consumer groups and the public.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) began to enforce the tougher standard – that speed claims should available to at least half of customers between 8pm and 10pm and described in ads as “average” – from May.

Acccording to Which? BT, EE, John Lewis Broadband, Plusnet, Sky, Zen Internet, Post Office, SSE, TalkTalk and Utility Warehouse previously advertised their standard (ADSL) broadband deals as ‘up to 17Mbps’. The new advertised speed is now more than a third lower at 10Mbps or 11Mbps.

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Previously, suppliers were able to advertise broadband deals which claimed ‘up-to’ speeds that only one in 10 customers would ever reach.

But the new advertising rules mean that at least half of customers must now be able to get an advertised average speed, even during peak times (8-10pm).

Which? found that across all the deals on offer from the 12 biggest providers, the advertised speeds from ‘up to 17Mbps’ to ‘up to 100 Mbps’ had dropped by an average of 15%.

TalkTalk has completely dropped advertising speed claims from most of its deals. Vodafone has also changed the name of some of its deals: Fibre 38 and Fibre 76 are now Superfast 1 and Superfast 2.

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Only advertised speeds by Virgin Media, which is the only provider that can give gold standard fibre-to-the-router superfast broadband, have gone up since the change.

Before the new rules came into effect, Which? found evidence that British households were paying for broadband services that were on average 51% slower than advertised.

Which? has called for guidelines over advertised speeds since 2013 through its Broadband Speed Guaranteed campaign.

Alex Neill of Which? said: “Customers will now have a much clearer idea of the speeds that can be achieved when they are shopping around for broadband.

“For those still struggling to get a reasonable speed or connection, the Government must press ahead with its crucial plans to deliver the service that broadband customers need, without it costing them the earth.”

CAP toughened up the standards following research which found they were likely to mislead consumers.

The study, commissioned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), found most consumers thought they were likely to receive a speed at or close to a provider’s headline claim when, for many, that was not the case.

Previous independent testing by consumer groups found that up to three quarters of households were paying for advertised broadband speeds they never received.