Ofcom has published a voluntary code designed to regulate the way broadband speeds are advertised.
The 32 U.K. ISPs account for around 90 percent of U.K. broadband connections. They have agreed to follow the Ofcom Code of Practice, and will be required to give consumers an accurate estimate of the maximum connection speed offered by broadband packages, before purchase.
ISPs who abide by the code will also be expected to allow customers to move to lower price packages if estimates are inaccurate as well as highlighting usage limits and alerting customers who have reached such limits.
"Broadband is a thriving market in the UK. We want to encourage real clarity for consumers about the actual broadband speeds they can receive," said Ed Richards Ofcom's chief executive.
"This voluntary code is a significant step in this direction," he added.
The Internet Services Providers' Association (ISPA) is among the bodies supporting the code but wants to see it extended to include wireless mobile broadband providers.
"If all internet service providers whether fixed line or mobile broadband follow the code then there will be less confusion for consumers," commented a spokesperson from the ISPA.
And while the ISPA acknowledges that publishes access speeds are helpful, the association feels throughput speed data are of greater value to the consumer. The ISPA says it will continue to work with Ofcom and the industry to provide accurate throughput speeds to consumers.
"By providing throughput speeds as well as access speeds, ISPs are offering an additional metric for consumers and a greater transparency of the service they are providing," added the ISPA spokesperson.
Not everyone is pleased, however. According to Moneysupermarket.com, for instance, the code should be compulsory for all broadband providers.
"Ofcom says 90 percent of the industry will be covered, but why should the remaining one in 10 people have to suffer a poorer service or be less advised?" said Rob Barnes, head of broadband and mobiles at the price-comparison website.
Ofcom is also launching a broadband speed test that it claims will be "the UK's most authoritative and comprehensive broadband speed survey."