Government passes buck on broadband shortfall

Government passes buck on broadband shortfall

Number 10's refusal to intervene "defies belief", say industry observers

The Government has refused to take action over misleading broadband speeds after more than 11,185 people signed a petition urging it do so.

It urged the Prime Minister to instruct Ofcom to force ISPs to advertise a typical rate for broadband subscriptions, not just a theoretical 'maximum' rate.

But in a statement sent to all those who signed the petition, Downing Street refused to comment directly on the issue:

"Ofcom has expressed concern to the Advertising Standards Authority, and is in discussion with industry and consumer organisations to look into the other options that might be available to provide greater clarity for consumers and reduce the possibility of them being misled.

"Ofcom's work in the area will include new research on comparing quality across ISPs, which will add to existing sources and will consider a range of possible measures, including different ways to improve the information available to consumers at point of sale and in advance of purchase decisions," the statement concluded.

Michael Phillips of broadband comparison service Broadband Choices, which supported the campaign, said: "The point of Downing Street petitions is to give the public a voice beyond the 'normal channels' of consultation. It defies belief that the Government has deferred the issue back to the ASA and Ofcom when
the issue has been lodged there already. This is an industry-wide problem that requires government level intervention."

Andrew Ferguson of independent broadband advice website Think Broadband said the Government had failed consumers.

"It would seem that consumers are once more left to do the leg work in comparing advertising and deciphering what is a highly technical area. The Government is happy with the status quo that leaves consumers confused", he said.