Truth in Advertising: What Regulators are “Up To” in the UK
Later this month, the way broadband speeds are marketed will undergo a significant change in the UK.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) passed regulations last year that will now require “numerical speed claims in broadband ads [to] be based on the download speed available to at least 50% of customers at peak time and described in ads as average.”
Currently, broadband speeds in the UK are advertised using “up to” language (e.g., up to 100 Mbps) and in those ads, “up to speeds” are only required to be accessible by 10% of the population.
An example of “up to” language currently seen in many markets, including the UK
The new regulations coming in to effect on May 23 are a huge win for subscribers, who will now have far more transparency over the Internet speed they will receive when selecting a service provider.
What I love most about the regulation is the requirement that advertised speeds are not measured over a 24-hour period, but rather during peak period (defined by OFCOM as between 8:00PM and 10:00PM) when the network is most likely to be congested. This focus on peak period provides an even more realistic expectation for consumers on what their experience will be like when doing the things that matter most to them, like watching Netflix, playing video games, or FaceTiming family and friends in the evening.
Sandvine has repeatedly reported on the challenges that traditional speed measurements (e.g., speedtest.net and Netflix’s ISP Speed Index) face when attempting to measure Internet speeds reliably. At any point in the measurement process, there can be an impairment that drastically impacts the speed received by a subscriber. This impairment can be network congestion, but it can also be a slow router or even an infected device in the home that is unknowingly consuming bandwidth as part of a botnet.
So how can network operators properly diagnose a speed issue?
With Sandvine’s ScoreCard, network operators can measure the actual performance delivered for all of their data traffic by incorporating subscriber experience KPIs that are recognized by the FCC in the United States and the BEREC in the European Union. Our solution is subscriber-, service-, location-, and device-aware, and effectively facilitates root cause analysis for quality of experience (QoE) issues.
Sandvine’s ScoreCard providing video QoE scoring by location
By being able to view performance at a network-level or drill down to the subscriber-level and help subscribers diagnose any speed or quality related-issue, network operators can be confident they are complying with updated advertising standards. But more importantly, network operators can actively troubleshoot subscribers with a poor experience, proactively boost their network overall score, and preemptively address potential consumer complaints to a call center or regulator.
Dan is Sandvine’s Media & Industry Relations Manager who oversees the Global Internet Phenomena Report. His research is responsible for revealing the facts, fads and future trends about the Internet that are regularly cited by both media and Communications Service Providers across the globe.