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Fixed broadband advertising of prices report

11 Ionawr 2016

Ofcom is working with the ASA to assess whether current advertising for the fixed broadband market provides fixed broadband decision-makers with information that is sufficiently clear to allow them to make informed choices and to avoid them being misled.

The ASA's current position on fixed broadband advertising states that if consumers are required to take line rental from the marketer in order to obtain the advertised services, marketers should include line rental in quoted prices or state the price of line rental clearly alongside the most prominent prices for the advertised services. One-off set up costs may be set out in small print and positioned away from the total cost per month.

As part of this work, in June 2015 Ofcom commissioned Futuresight to conduct qualitative and quantitative research among fixed broadband decision-makers.

The overall objectives of this study were to test and assess fixed broadband decision-makers' ability to identify and correctly calculate:

  • The total cost per month1 for fixed broadband, that typically comprises two separate components, i.e., the price for the broadband service itself (which is sometimes free for a certain period) and the monthly line rental (which is payable throughout the contract)
  • Any other pricing information relevant to the deal advertised that allows fixed broadband decision-makers to determine the overall cost of the contract, e.g., the cost of the broadband service after any discounted introductory period (or any introductory offer that is stated as being offered for free), any one-off installation, activation or hub delivery charges and the length of the contract.

The research comprised a communication test2 and in-depth assessment of responses to a representative selection of TV, press and outdoor advertising, plus fixed broadband offers presented by fixed broadband providers online.

Further details of the research background and approach can be found in Section 2 and in Appendix 4.1.

The ASA published a news release summarising the findings of this research on their website here.

Notes

1. We define the total cost per month as the cost (if any) of the broadband service itself plus the monthly line rental. Combined, this forms the total cost per month at the outset of the contract, after any one-off set-up costs have been paid and accounted for, and before the end of any introductory period. Please see section 2.4 for further details and an example that illustrates the method used.

2. See Sections 2.3 and 2.5 for a detailed explanation of the communication test employed.