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October 31, 2016updated 07 Nov 2016 2:35pm

Broadband advertising clampdown forces Sky and BT price revamp

The ASA found that consumers struggled to understand broadband advertising.

By Alexander Sword

New rules that require broadband providers to simplify how they advertise deals have come into force today.

The rules from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) will require internet service providers to include line rental when detailing the cost of a broadband plan, meaning that the monthly costs advertised will be all-inclusive.

The far-reaching overhaul will also force ISPs to give greater prominence to the contract length and any post-discount pricing; a move designed to prevent consumers from mistakenly believing that the discount will apply to the full term of the contract.

In addition, providers will be required to include all compulsory up-front costs, such as delivery fees, activation fees and installation fees, in a single prominent total.

broadband advertising

Deadpool actor Ryan Reynolds stars in a BT advert.

BT and Sky, the UK’s largest fixed broadband providers, have announced plans to adopt inclusive pricing. TalkTalk introduced new pricing in May.

A BT spokesperson said: “We have supported efforts across our industry and from the ASA to introduce this new way of advertising the price of broadband with line rental, and customers will only see the inclusive price from October 28.

“The changes will affect new customers, who will be able to make their decision to buy or not based on the all-inclusive price for broadband, with no separate charge for line rental. Existing customers will continue to pay the same prices, and their bill will continue to add up what they pay with prices clearly set out in the same way as before.”

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The move followed research by the ASA and Ofcom in January that found few consumers could understand the correct pricing from current broadband advertising.

Only 23 percent of participants could correctly identify the total cost per month after a first viewing of the ad. Even after a second viewing of the ad, only 78 percent of participants could correctly identify the total cost per month.

It is not just regulators who have been taken an interest in broadband advertising; Matt Hancock, Minister for Digital and Culture, mentioned the importance of addressing how broadband is advertised at the recent Broadband World Forum.

“Advertising in highly competitive markets like broadband plays a crucial part in driving competition and choice,” wrote ASA CEO Guy Parker.

“But whether you’re a consumer or a business, we all stand to benefit from it being more responsible advertising.”

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