Over 15 years later, ISPs still struggle to make accurate broadband promises

Over 15 years later, ISPs still struggle to make accurate broadband promises
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Dial-up was a major pain in the ass. If you aren’t old enough to remember using it to access the internet, just imagine that you’re waiting for a YouTube video to buffer for somewhere between 24 hours and a month. That was how long it would take you to download a movie. Not that you’d have been downloading pirated movies, of course.

With the advent of broadband in the early 2000s and its widespread proliferation since, things have thankfully got a lot better – and an entire new world of services and possibilities now exist as a result.

And yet, year after year, ISPs are reprimanded for misleading adverts.

In the most recent example, the ASA had to slap PlusNet on the metaphorical wrists due to claims of “totally unlimited” broadband. Had the company just gone with the term ‘unlimited broadband’ instead, the complaint likely wouldn’t have been upheld, the ASA notes in its ruling.

That little nugget just makes it all the worse though – in the UK, at least, it’s not as if ISPs are held to particularly high or accurate standards by the ASA in some regards. Virgin Media, as another example, is allowed to advertise its services as fiber optic technology despite the fact that connections to customers’ homes use an inferior coaxial connection with lower overall speeds than a pure fiber setup. Virgin Media’s broadband backhaul network is primarily fiber, however, which is why the ASA lets it use that wording in adverts.

The ASA’s database of cases has a whole load more examples too, dealing with virtually every provider in the UK at some point over the years – 97 cases were formally investigated and 111 were informally resolved after the complaint had been made. Not all were upheld, but lots were.

In an age when Web users don’t know who to trust with the masses of data we’re all sharing every day, it would at least be nice to have a bit of transparency when deciding which ISP to opt for – is it really that hard after 15 years to communicate an accurate price, usage policy and technological capabilities in a way that people can understand?

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