A BRADFORD internet pioneer has welcomed a new crackdown on home broadband providers aimed at preventing misleading claims about peak time speeds.

The new rules, which force providers to ensure that at least 50 per cent of their customers can achieve the advertised speeds at busy times, have come into force in the last week.

Firms had previously been allowed to advertise “up to” speeds as long as just ten per cent of customers could reach them.

But widespread complaints from the public, consumer groups and the Government have led to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) enforcing the tougher standard. The claimed speed must now be available to at least half of customers between 8pm and 10pm each day and can only be described in ads as “average.”

Mark Cowgill, co-founder and director of Bradford-based Exa Networks, one of the leading internet connectivity providers for schools and businesses across the UK, said he “completely agreed” with the move but there was still “room for improvement.”

“There has been discussion within the industry for years as to how better to deal with the ‘up to…’ advertising,” said Mr Cowgill. “The ASA decision is overdue but it is supported by many internet service providers (ISPs) and the ISP Association.”

He said most ISPs had for a long time advertised a simple “up to…” based on the maximum speed a technology could reach. “Because we only supply to business and education, we’ve been able to tailor what we sell directly to what a customer needs so we only sell a speed based on what we know we can achieve,” said Mr Cowgill.

“So, for instance, if a customer has a 60 megabits per second (Mbps) line but only requires a speed of 20Mbps, that’s what we provide. This is often impractical in the home user market, where you may have millions of customers, most of which sign up for a service electronically and there is little opportunity to discuss individual requirements. And that’s where the new standards come in. Making things far clearer and hopefully easier for everyone to understand.”

ASA chief executive Guy Parker said: “Consumers will see a difference in broadband ads that make claims about speed as this new, tougher, standard is enforced. We’ll be making sure consumers aren’t misled by speed claims in ads, not least because choosing the right broadband deal has become such an important part of running a household or business.”