The UK regulator’s consumer advisory body, the Ofcom Consumer Panel, has called on internet service providers to clarify advertised broadband speeds.

One of the biggest complaints about broadband internet is that consumers rarely get the speeds they signed up for.

Although broadband speeds are advertised as “up to xMbps”, many subscribers find that what they get is often lower than expected.

On Wednesday, Colette Bowe, chairman of the Ofcom Consumer Panel, asked the UK’s top six ISP chiefs for their views about why consumers often do not get the advertised broadband connection speeds that they think they are buying. The consumer champion is also asking these executives to come up with solutions that give customers clear information.

“We believe that broadband customers are not at the moment getting enough information. We are of course aware of the technical reasons for the “up to” terminology that you use. I would however like to have your views about how these technical issues might be better addressed in terms of giving clearer information to potential customers,” Bowe said in an open letter.

The Consumer Panel has asked ISPs to change their sales practices to better advise customers what their likely connection speed would be on a specific line; extend the cooling off period so that customers can test out the connection speed before they sign a contract; and to allow customers to exit from contracts if speeds and quality are well below the advertised speeds.