Suppliers can no longer separate broadband and line rental costs
Published 1 November 2016
A new ruling should help end the confusion around broadband deals.
The way broadband suppliers can advertise deals is changing. New Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) rules are forcing broadband suppliers to be clearer in adverts about the costs of their contracts.
This means suppliers will now have to show upfront and monthly costs without separating the prices for line rental. Firms are also expected to be clearer about contract length, upfront costs and how much customers will pay after an introductory offer ends.
To make sure you understand these new rules and what they mean for you, we're going to take you through what's changing.
Before this ruling, suppliers often promoted broadband as "free" despite customers needing to sign up to a line rental package to get the deal. Customers would often need to check the small print of top broadband deals to work out the price.
Last year, research by the ASA and regulator Ofgem, found that most customers could not work out bills correctly based on the information provided in a selection of broadband adverts. The ASA said customers are now less likely to be misled.
The rules – brought in on 31 October – were originally due to come in this May. But after firms asked for more time to fulfil the changes, they were delayed.
What does this mean for me?
From Monday onwards, you should easily be able to see all of the included costs in a broadband advert – including contract lengths, installation costs and discount periods.
This puts an end to "free" broadband adverts that come with a high monthly line rental charge in the small print. Broadband prices might look higher but be aware that this change doesn't mean prices have gone up or line rental is no longer available.
You will still need a fixed line to connect most broadband packages to your home – unless you opt for broadband without a phone line. But broadband suppliers will no longer be able to list line rental charge as a separate cost.
While the total cost of broadband will be clearer, there is no change to the rules on how providers advertise the broadband speeds they offer. A lot of broadband deals advertise a maximum speed for example "up to 32Mb" but this doesn't necessarily mean all phone lines are built to run at this rate.
As a result, often only a certain percentage of people get the maximum speed – meaning that many customers are paying for something they don’t receive. There are ways to check you're getting the broadband speed you pay for though.
If your broadband price has recently shot up, it might be worth seeing if you can save by switching. Price comparison sites like uSwitch and MoneySuperMarket will be able to help you compare deals – and you'll now be able to get a clearer picture of the direct costs you're going to face.