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Which? tested providers to see if they met current guidelines designed to give potential customers clear broadband speed information.

Some of the UK’s biggest broadband providers are giving customers inadequate information about speeds when they are signing up to a new deal, a study has found.

Which? and their broadband speed information report

Which? tested broadband companies to see if they met current guidelines designed to give potential customers clear broadband speed information ahead of Ofcom introducing an updated Code of Practice to come into effect in March next year.

Each provider received 12 calls from mystery shoppers, who gave them an address and recorded whether sales agents gave all of the broadband speed information currently recommended by Ofcom without being asked for it.

Overall, providers – who should give customers estimated home speeds ‘as early as practicable’ during the sales process – gave the information less than half (47%) of the time.

Providers should also explain that speeds can be influenced by a range of factors, such as network capacity and the number of subscribers to the service.


Which? said TalkTalk advisers only gave information about estimated speeds five times out of 12, and general advice about speeds was not given in any of the 12 calls.

Which? said TalkTalk advisers only gave broadband speed information five times out of 12
Which? said TalkTalk advisers only gave information about estimated speeds five times out of 12 (PA)

The company was outperformed by four providers – SSE, Utility Warehouse, Post Office and John Lewis Broadband – all who have not yet signed the code which is voluntary and self-regulated.

Vodafone finished second to bottom, with EE Broadband one place above. Both are signed up to Ofcom’s guidelines but Vodafone provided information about estimated speeds just seven times out of 12, while EE provided it during eight of the calls.

Neither provider gave advice about the factors that can influence speeds.

Sky’s pre-prepared statement, in which speed data is outlined to potential customers, helped to make it the best performing provider by far, the consumer group said.

It offered estimated speeds and additional advice on 21 out of 24 occasions and was followed by Zen Internet in second place and SSE in third position.

By March 2019, providers signed up to the code will be expected to provide minimum guaranteed speeds upfront, along with details about speeds people can expect at peak times.

broadband speed information gauge

Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home products and services, said: “Having a clear idea of what speeds you can expect from a broadband deal before you sign up is your right, but our research shows that providers have a long way to go to meet their customers’ expectations.

“We support Ofcom’s action to strengthen the Code and providers need to play their part and implement the new rules quickly and update their advice as soon as they can so that customers have a clearer picture about what they’re getting.”

A TalkTalk spokesman said: “The Residential Broadband Speeds Code of Practice requires us to provide specific information before a sale is agreed.

broadband speed information high speed fibre

“The mystery shopping calls were all terminated before this point in the sales journey and therefore based on the information provided by Which?, we are confident that we fully complied with the code.”

Ofcom said: “It’s vital broadband shoppers know what speeds to expect before they commit to a contract. So we want to see providers up their game and we’re taking direct action to make this happen.

“This includes new measures to give customers more realistic broadband speed information, and ensure people can walk away from their contract when companies fail to provide the speeds they promise.”

Are you shocked by the Which? findings? Or is that what you expect anyway? Are the broadband companies been getting a hard time? Or do they deserve all they get?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments box below.

* Prices correct at time of posting.


  1. I’ve been with Virgin since they started, and about March every year they increase their prices many many times above the rate of inflation, usually by 10% or more.
    Often before this increase, they make a big thing of advertising that they have considerably increased my Maximum Broadband Speed free of charge.
    But the fact is that my Broadband Speed is lower now than its ever been.
    I’m supposed to 70Mb/s (I just did a test and it was: 6.14 Mb/s, and its been as low as 1 Mb/s)
    Like the energy companies, these companies are ripping people off (with the Governments blessing) and I’m sick of it, and I have threatened to terminate my service on several occasions. At least Dick Turpin wore a mask !

  2. Not surprised at all, about what I expected from experience

    *mac: With Virgin I have a friend who has this problem as all he needs is 20Mb/s but they keep upping the price and speed. I’m not with Virgin, but give my 30 days notice to leave unless I get a deal I like.

    Takes some time and you need another option so you can follow though……..Leaving and moving back 12 months later to the same provider is sometimes the only way to get a good deal, but unlike another friend I have they didn’t want to leave and ended up with price increases all the time.

    Hope that helps someone


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