Mobile operator Three UK appears to have shunned new advertising rules by unveiling its new Huawei E3231 USB Dongle (Modem), which its press release questionably claims can offer “super-fast” Mobile Broadband download speeds of up to 21.1Mbps using its latest HSPA+ (3G) technology.
On Monday the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) was allowed to extend its guidelines, which were introduced earlier this year to tackle misleading promotions of fixed line broadband ISP speeds, to mobile data providers (here). The rules won’t come into force until 1st November 2012 but you would have thought that existing operators might at least start to take some notice.
Sadly this appears not to be the case with Three UK’s PR boldly claiming that its new “E3231 [is] capable of download speeds of up to 21.1 Mbps and upload speeds of up to 5.76 Mbps on [our] HSPA+ mobile network“. In reality the speed figures, which are incidentally below the government’s official 24Mbps+ definition for “super-fast“, is only a reflection of the modem and networks theoretical capability. The vast majority of consumers will typically receive significantly lower real-world speeds but there’s nothing in the PR about that.
Mark Mitchinson, Huawei UK’s Executive Vice President, said:
“Huawei is committed to delivering innovative and easy-to-use data products across all categories – smartphones, mobile broadband and home devices. We have a long and productive relationship with Three. The new Huawei E3231 will enable consumers to take even greater advantage of its fast data network in the home and on-the-go.”
None of this criticism is to say that the new E3231 dongle is bad, in fact it’s probably one of the better budget focused USB modems out there right now, although it also serves as a useful demonstration of why it’s so important for Mobile Broadband operators to reflect realistic instead of theoretical performance.
According to the ASA, Three UK and other operators must soon be able to demonstrate that their advertised speeds are achievable by at least 10% of their customers. Most surveys seem to suggest that the average Mobile Broadband download speed is still hovering around the 2-3Mbps mark, which varies dramatically between different locations.
Meanwhile anybody interested in picking up the new dongle will find that prices on Three UK start from just £7.87 per month, which includes the modem, a 1GB monthly usage allowance and ties you in to an 18 month contract. Thankfully bigger usage allowances of up to 15GB are available from £15.99 per month on a 24 month contract.