At present firms can advertise speeds received by the top 10pc of customers, but Ministers, consumer bodies and members of the public said this was misleading and must be changed. The ASA found that in many cases consumers are likely to be misled by claims of speeds "up to" certain levels.
Current guidance only demands that 10% of customers should experience the advertised speed, meaning the vast majority of users could be achieving line speeds of under what providers have promised in their adverts. Under the rules, ISPs will no longer be able to claim state-of-the-art technology if it's only part-fibre, and advertised speeds will also be subject to the new rules set out by CAP.
This issue of broadband speeds has been a bugbear for many people for many years now.
The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), which sets advertising guidelines for the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), said numerical speed claims in broadband ads should be based on the download speed available to at least 50 per cent of customers at peak time and described in ads as "average".
A crackdown on misleading broadband adverts will ensure at least half of customers can receive advertised speeds during peak times, drastically reducing providers' fast internet claims.
CAP is also recommending that speed-checking facilities, like those provided on internet service providers' websites, should be promoted in ads wherever possible.
"Today's ruling means advertised speeds are going to come down to more closely match the expectations of the average customer by April/May next year".
"Our new standards will give consumers a better understanding of the broadband speeds offered by different providers when deciding to switch providers".
"By allowing copper-reliant products to continue to masquerade as full-fibre, despite their clear and recognised inferiority in terms of speed and quality, consumers will continue to be ill-equipped to make an informed choice, fuelling mounting distrust in the telecoms market place", argued the group.
But what is peak time for broadband?
CAP, the regulatory body that is responsible for advertising codes in the United Kingdom and part of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), has published a 10-week public consultation seeking views on different options on how to strengthen standards around broadband speed claims.
"There are a lot of factors that affect the broadband speed a customer is going to get in their own home; from technology to geography, to how a household uses broadband", explained Shahriar Coupal, director of the Committees of Advertising Practice. This new research shows that the term "fibre" is not a priority for consumers when choosing a broadband package, and that the word "fibre" is not spontaneously identified in ads.
Consumers may interpret a range as the speed they are likely to get individually, as opposed to the range that consumers generally are likely to get, and a range doesn't tell consumers where in the range they fall, if at all.