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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Advertising Authority Investigated UK ISP

One of the largest UK ISPs, TalkTalk, was investigated by the Advertising Standards Authority (aka ASA) after one of its subscribers complained about how the ISP advertised its connection speeds. This customer approached the watchdog after he saw a speed checking service on TalkTalk’s official website. After having accepted his postcode, the service told the customer that his estimated speed was 3.8 Mbit/s, while estimated speed range was 2.1-5.3 Mbit/s.

The customer challenged whether the advertising was misleading, since he was a TalkTalk customer and was said that his maximum connection speed was less than 2.1 Mbit/s. The internet service provider claimed that it was compliant with the Ofcom Voluntary Code of Practice on connection speeds, which says that ISPs must provide a facility (line checker) on their site to let the consumers find out their estimated access line speed.

TalkTalk added that considering the fact that the material differences between the network measured access line speed and the throughput speeds people were likely to receive, the Ofcom Voluntary Code of Practice also demanded that broadband providers explain that the real throughput speed would be influenced by several factors.

The ISP claimed that it did provide consumers with a link on its website which explained how the speed was estimated. In addition, it insisted that the speed checker results were based on the methodology presented in the Code of Practice.

TalkTalk said that it had ensured to provide subscribers with a clear picture over its speed checker, which was qualified, with the statement saying that the speed was an estimated one: literally “Your estimated speed range is ...”

Nevertheless, the broadband provider admitted that it was able to implement changes in order to improve the subscribers experience over the speed checker. The Advertising Standards Authority explained that the ISP didn’t go far enough to explain all details of speeds and differences, and therefore its advertisement was misleading.

The watchdog ruled that the advertisement can’t be used by TalkTalk again in its current form. In addition, the ISP was ordered to ensure its speed checker results were clearly qualified next time, and the company was in a position to provide evidence to substantiate the impression which was likely to be taken from its future advertising.

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