Practical speeds to make mobile bandwidth claims clearer

Swedish operators hope to satisfy the local Consumer Ombudsman with their new system for describing mobile network speeds

A group of four Swedish mobile operators have decided to use the term "practical maximum speeds" when marketing the bandwidth of mobile broadband, they announced on Monday.

By Sept. 1, a HSPA (High-Speed Packet Access) network that supports data rates up to 7.2M bps will be marketed as having a practical maximum speed of 6M bps. Other practical maximum speeds include 3M bps for a 3.6M bps network and 16M bps for a 21M bps network.

The change comes after the Swedish Consumer Ombudsman on May 6 announced it had decided that Tele2, Telenor, Telia and 3 shouldn't be allowed to advertise speeds "up to" a theoretical maximum -- for example, 7.2M bps -- that users will never be able to get.

Monday was the deadline the Swedish Consumer Ombudsman had set for the operators to come up with something. Otherwise the issue would have ended up in the Swedish Market Court, which judges the propriety of marketing claims, according to its Web site.

The new practical maximum speeds are more in line with what consumers can expect to get under optimal conditions; speeds can still vary depending on, for example, the location and how many users are competing for the available bandwidth, according to the operators.

The operators have in the past defended their marketing language by saying that everyone uses the same tactics, but the Consumer Ombudsman wanted to make it easier for consumers to understand what they are actually getting. The Consumer Ombudsman hasn't yet decided whether the new proposal is good enough, according to Swedish publication PC För Alla.

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