2 in 3 Brits feel broadband providers use baffling jargon like FTTP


More than half (54%) of Brits believe that broadband providers are intentionally keeping them in the dark, hiding behind confusing jargon to squeeze more money out of customers.

The research revealed three-quarters of people aged 65 and over (73%) are confused by broadband terminology – the highest of all age groups – compared with 56% of those aged between 25 and 34-years-old.

Terms like the acronym FTTP – meaning Fibre To The Premises – cause the biggest uncertainty to consumers, with only 1 in 20 (5%) believing they could explain what it means.

Nearly half of broadband consumers (46%) admit they don’t know the difference between speed categories such as ‘superfast’ and ‘ultrafast’, which are used to describe deals, while only 17% are confident they know the difference between fibre and full fibre.

When it comes to the providers, three-quarters of Plusnet customers (74%) express the desire for clearer broadband terminology – the highest out of the main broadband providers – compared with 55% of Vodafone customers.

A third of broadband consumers (31%) even admit they have been put off from switching broadband providers or signing up to a new deal because of the confusing language.

Clear as mud: Confusing broadband terms made clear

Broadband term
% of people who understand what it means
What it actually means
FTTH stands for Fibre to the Home – a type of very fast broadband connection using fibre-optic cables to transmit data directly to an address. It can be known as full-fibre broadband.
FTTC stands for Fibre to the Cabinet – a type of connection using fibre-optic cables transmitting data to street cabinets rather than directly to homes. The connection is then typically continued to an address using older copper cables. This can be known as fibre broadband, and speeds are slower than a full-fibre solution like FTTH or FTTP.
FTTP stands for Fibre to the Premises. This is effectively the same as FTTH and can be known as full-fibre broadband.
Gigabit broadband
Gigabit broadband is a network connection with a speed of at least 1 gigabit per second – the equivalent of 1,000 Megabits per second. Gigabit speeds are typically only available in locations with fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) connections.
Fair use policy
A Fair use Policy (FUP) is a limit placed on broadband usage by a provider, even for those with unlimited plans. It limits excessive data use at peak times, so there’s enough bandwidth for everyone online.
Openreach network
Openreach was originally owned by BT, but is now a separate company under the BT group. It maintains and builds the telecoms infrastructure that serves UK homes and businesses. The majority of broadband service providers use the BT Openreach network.
Bandwidth refers to the maximum capacity of your internet connection. If video streaming in HD uses “a lot of bandwidth” it means a lot of your connection’s data transfer capacity is being taken up and other activities will be slower.
Mb or Mbps
Megabits per second (Mbps or Mb) is a unit of measurement for data transfer speed, typically used to describe internet connection or network download/upload rates.
Ultrafast broadband
Ultrafast broadband refers to an extremely high-speed internet connection, typically exceeding 300Mbps, which can range up to Gigabit speeds, providing swift data transfer and download/upload capabilities.
Superfast broadband
Superfast broadband refers to an internet connection with download speeds from 30Mbps up to about 100Mbps.
Broadband is a high-capacity, high-speed internet connection that allows for the simultaneous transmission of a wide range of digital data, such as text, audio, and video, over a single connection.

Source: Broadband Genie

The report comes as industry regulator Ofcom is currently reviewing how companies use different terms on their websites and in contracts. Under new guidance planned, customers would be given a short, easy-to-understand description of the type of broadband network technology they are signing up to. It would also mean that providers could only use terms like ‘fibre’ when describing deals where fibre-optic cables are connected to properties.

The way different packages are advertised on companies’ websites is also the responsibility of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which is meant to ensure this is not confusing to consumers. 

Broadband Genie is calling on providers to have a universal guide that defines terms for customers and shows clearly how they relate to different package speeds. 

Says Alex Tofts, broadband expert at Broadband Genie:

“The language used by broadband providers has been bewildering customers for years, so any move towards greater transparency in how deals are described is a step in the right direction.

“Confusion still reigns between fibre and full fibre, while terms like superfast and ultrafast often leave consumers scratching their heads and struggling to know the difference.

“By embracing Ofcom’s proposals, providers can give customers confidence in their broadband choices, potentially spurring more to make the switch to the right deals for them. However, it has not yet been made clear yet when Ofcom will introduce the proposed changes or how it will enforce them.

“However, the responsibility does not lie solely at Ofcom’s door. The ASA must also take action to ensure that providers are not drawing in customers with information that blinds them with science.

“Our report shows that a third of people have been put off switching broadband deals because they are confused about the language used by providers.”

Chris Price
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