Advertised broadband speeds which are only available to 10% of customers are ‘misleading’, say council chiefs.
Current rules allow providers to promote ‘up to’ download speeds if they can demonstrate just 10% of their customers can achieve them.
However, the Local Government Association (LGA) warns speeds in many remote rural areas fall well below 2Mbps during periods of intensive use, such as in holidays and after 6pm.
‘The headline ‘up to’ download speed, which can be advertised legally, is misleading and does not reflect the reality of broadband service received across the country,’ Cllr Mark Hawthorne, chairman of the LGA’s people and places board, said.
‘Broadband users deserve greater honesty and openness about the download and upload speeds they are likely to receive depending on their location.’
The LGA said switching from ‘up to’ to average advertised speeds would reflect broadband speeds during busy periods better.
Local authority leaders have also reiterated their call for upload speed to be included as a key measure of performance alongside download speed, and they said this should be clearly advertised to consumers.
The Government has pledged to give everybody the legal right to request a broadband connection capable of delivering a minimum download speed of 10Mbps by 2020 as a Universal Service Obligation (USO).
Councils say Ofcom must monitor the performance of connections delivered under the USO to assess whether providers are adhering to its specifications, especially during peak hours.
The LGA also insisted the USO minimum speed should be linked to the capability of current market speeds and locked in an obligation on Government to continue to raise broadband speeds amongst the hardest to reach.
It should stipulate the USO minimum download speed as a percentage of average national download speeds.
‘Good digital connectivity is a vital element of everyday life for residents and can help them cut household bills, shop online for cheaper goods, stay in touch with distant relatives, access their bank accounts and even run their own businesses,’ Cllr Hawthorne said.
‘As central and local government services increasingly become ‘digital by default’, more people will need to have faster and more reliable speeds.’