Consumer group Which? has called for stricter rules on broadband adverts that promise 'up to' speeds guaranteed for just 10 per cent of customers.
A survey conducted by the watchdog found that just 12 per cent of consumers are aware of the rule that speeds quoted in broadband adverts need only apply to a minimum of 10 per cent of customers.
Consumers consider speed to be the second most important factor influencing their choice of broadband deal (88 per cent), according to the survey, beaten only by price at 94 per cent. Furthermore, when the consumer group tested how speeds are presented to consumers they discovered a quarter would choose a different deal if they had better information.
The consumer group has called on the Committee of Advertising Practice and The Broadcasting Committee of Advertising Practice to review guidelines to require advertisers to quantify speed claims like ‘superfast’, to advertise speeds available to the majority of customers and to be up-front about how many people can actually get the advertised speed.
Executive director Richard Lloyd said: "Internet connection is now an essential part of modern life so it beggars belief that providers can sell people short by advertising speeds that only 10 per cent of customers could receive.
"We want advertising watchdogs to pull the plug on confusing adverts and ensure broadband providers show the speeds the majority of customers will actually get. In the meantime, companies need to be more up-front with customers about the speeds they can expect."
Some 88 per cent of the 2,339 people surveyed by Which? said they believed speed should be shown in adverts, but just 5 per cent agreed that the way it is currently advertised is the clearest option.
Speed also became around three times more important to people when choosing a broadband package when it was presented based on the speed 90 per cent of customers would receive, rather than 10 per cent, according to the test on presentation of speeds carried out on 2,074 consumers.
A spokesman from the Advertising Standards Authority said: "The rules and guidance surrounding broadband advertising speed claims, which were subject to a comprehensive public consultation, require ads to be clear and avoid misleading consumers.
"The ASA doesn't receive many complaints about broadband ads, but the Committees of Advertising Practice will listen to concerns carefully as part of its commitment to ensure the rules are working effectively."