LONDON: UK communications regulator Ofcom is investigating the advertising of broadband speeds after complaints from customers that services fall short of providers' pledges once deals are inked.

Many ISPs claim theoretical speeds of 8mbps and some promise up to 24mbps. In practice, however, speeds are determined by customers' distance from their phone exchange and general network traffic whlst they are logged-on.

More than thirty British broadband providers have now signed-up to a voluntary code requiring them to publicise realistic access speeds.

Ofcom has warned that unless the companies fall in line it will impose rules to ensure they comply.

Says the watchdog's consumer panel chairwoman, Anna Bradley: "If . . . ISPs are not in compliance, it will clearly be time to call for a mandatory code of practice."

The watchdog's probe will also look at how broadband speeds are affected by factors such as geographical region, provider and time of day.

Millions of software speed checks will be done, and monitoring hardware will be installed in 2,000 households nationwide. Ofcom aims to report its findings later this year.

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff