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UPDATE ASA UK Ban EE “Most Reliable Broadband” Claim After BT Moan

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014 (7:40 am) - Score 924
uk advertising standards authority

The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned a direct mailing advert for EE’s Home Broadband service after rival ISP BT complained that the promotions claim to offer “Britain’s most reliable broadband for staying connected” was misleading. But BT had less luck getting a promo for the ISPs BrightBox2 router taken down.

The promotion included small print at the bottom, which noted that EE’s “most reliable broadband” claim was based on Ofcom’s May 2013 fixed-line broadband report and in particular highlighted how “EE customers experienced less latency” (page 25) and “less jitter” (page 33) than its rivals, which the promotion said “means that EE is good for real time services such as Skype, video calling & gaming“.

However BT was quick to point out that the Ofcom report didn’t include a direct measurement of connectivity and that EE’s rating for latency and jitter “did not score higher than BT to a statistically significant degree“. On top of that BT complained that the promotion was not clear about whether its claims related to the fixed-line service itself or the ISPs wireless router performance. The ASA agreed on all counts.

ASA Ruling (REF: A14-259994)

We noted, however, that although each of the relevant graphs appeared to show that EE scored lower than their competitors [ISPr ED: lower = better when talking about latency and jitter], the report clearly stated that those differences were not statistically significant when compared to BT. Therefore, we considered that the report did not demonstrate that EE was superior to BT in relation to those measures.

We also noted that EE believed that customers would understand “broadband” to refer to the internet connection from the telephone network to the router. We noted that the footnote text stated “Based on Ofcom report on UK fixed-line broadband performance …”. However, we considered that that qualification was not prominent enough, and therefore most consumers would believe “broadband” referred to the internet connection from the telephone network to an internet enabled device, including the wireless connection transmitting the broadband connection from the router to the device. We noted that EE had not provided any evidence to demonstrate superior wireless router performance in relation to the maintenance of a connection.

Because we considered that consumers would understand the claim to relate to reliability of a broadband connection, including fixed-line and wireless router performance, and EE had not provided sufficient evidence to substantiate the claim, we concluded that it was misleading.

The ASA banned EE’s promotion, which is no longer being circulated anyway, and warned EE to ensure that they held “sufficient evidence to substantiate their claims in future“. However there is a hint of ‘pot calling the kettle black’ here because BT has also had adverts banned for a “most reliable” style claim in the past (here).

A separate complaint by BT against a website advert for EE’s Bright Box 2 fibre broadband router, which challenged EE’s claim that its “new Bright Box router is the first ‘plug and play’ Fibre Broadband Router in the UK“, was not upheld because at the time it was run BT’s competing / similar Home Hub 5 router had not yet enabled the self-install facility for its own subscribers.

UPDATE 22nd May 2014

The following is a response from EE.

An EE spokesperson told ISPreview.co.uk:

The claims in our ad were based on a recent broadband report from Ofcom in which EE scored higher than other providers, including BT, on latency, packet loss and jitter, but not to a sufficient statistical degree. We accept the ASA’s ruling however and will amend the ad accordingly.”

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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24 Responses
  1. Avatar finaldest

    I guess BT felt threatened so decided to throw their toys out of the pram.

    Its funny that I can get so called fiber optic but is delivered through a copper phone line. If there is anything that is misleading then it is this.

    • Misleading in what way? Its rather clear that FTT”c” is Fibre to The Cabinet

      Now if the question was, should BT Openreach have opted for wider adoption of FTTP/FTTH solutions, then yes I believe so, however to say BT are misleading I personally find wide of the mark.

    • How many ISPs advertise it as FTTC though, Martin?

    • Misleading as in just about every way Martin. It is “sold” as fibre optic broadband, but is delivered to the home using a copper cable. It is never (to my knowledge) sold ad fibre-to-the-cabinet broadband.

      To be fair to BT though, they did not start this nonsense as Virgin did, with them effectively claiming that coax cable was now made of glass! 🙂 If the ASA can believe that coax is made of glass, then I suppose we have to accept that twisted pair telephone cable has also now been subject to a miracle.

      No doubt in a few years time, the marketing bods will be selling “real” fibre optic broadband.

  2. Avatar James Vincent

    BT having another strop… BT are unreliable. High latancy. Upload speeds of a few kbps. Slower download speed than EE And dont know how to manage their network. I’ve been so much happier with EE this last year and a half.

  3. Avatar dragoneast

    Is anyone taken in by all this drivel? Price is what matters, and suppliers are desperate to take the customers’ eye off the ball. But of course like Old Testament Pharisees the advertising industry has to keep massaging its ego to survive. As the old saying goes “If you can’t convince them, confuse them”.

  4. Now I had a bit of time to think more (coffee soaked in), was it not BT who themselves stated in adverts that they were the UKs most reliable provider and that the BT HomeHub was better than other routera?

    • Avatar James Vincent

      Yeah. Most reliable connection -to the home hub- as its got the furthest range. That was a lie. I had the old tall one, which banged out a good signal. But when I had the newer smaller one. The range of that was less. Hated it

    • Avatar gerarda

      BT have had 17 complaints against them upheld in whole or part by the ASA in the last few years. Definitely a lot of pots talking here.

  5. Avatar BT Investor

    It’s good to see BT fighting for consumers here. Misleading ads are good for nobody and the ASA had no choice but to act in this situation. BT consistently ranks highest for speed and reliability on this and many other sites, while the competition lags behind. You also get the Home Hub router which is an incredible bit of kit versus the cheap junk rival operators give their customers.

    • Stand-Up comedy is your day job?

      BT Investor, your comments about BT are frankly remarkable, that I have to question which department within BT your on the payroll for?

      “BT consistently ranks highest for speed and reliability”….odd that reviews on this very site place BT firstly in the bottom 25%. Is a BT investor making false claims?

    • Avatar DTMark

      Broadband advertising is a bit of a farce at the best of times.

      What is most amusing is watching companies trying to sell “fibre” which isn’t “fibre” at all on the basis of faster speeds, never being actually able to say what speeds they are or what you might get, and inventing the term “standard broadband” to try to make some kind of comparison.

      There was not, and is not, any such thing as “standard broadband”.

      There is almost no fibre-optic broadband in the country.

      Fibre-optic does not have any direct association with performance.

      Even the word “broadband” has no meaningful relationship to performance.

      Most of it is meaningless for all practical purposes.

      Still, put the advert out, get some people locked in for 18 months, take the slap on the wrist, and move to the next campaign.

  6. Avatar BT Investor

    “odd that reviews on this very site place BT firstly in the bottom 25%. Is a BT investor making false claims?”

    User reviews are meaningless to me.

    This site has posted numerous independent benchmark surveys that put BT at the top of the speed charts. Consistently BT only gets beat by Virgin in their cabled areas. And Virgin as we know covers only a small proportion of the country whereas BT covers everyone with varying distances from each exchange.

    • Avatar No Clue

      “User reviews are meaningless to me.”

      Using that logic your opinions on how wonderful BT are as a company are meaningless also?

      Good job Einstein.

    • Avatar BT Investor

      Independent benchmarks are a better measure than people manually entering their gripes and situation biased ratings on a review site. And BT is the UK’s largest ISP so naturally they will attract the bigger number of complaints even though proportionally BT outperform the industry.

    • Avatar No Clue

      “a better measure than people manually entering their gripes and situation biased ratings on a review site. And BT is the UK’s largest ISP so naturally they will attract the bigger number of complaints”

      Idiot logic again if they are the biggest they should have the biggest amount of happy as well as unhappy customers and reviews using that logic. So they should have more than their fair share of shinning reviews from all the happy customers of their massive userbase. Too bad they do not.

      Unless of course you are agreeing they have a massive userbase and they are all unhappy?

    • Avatar FibreFred

      Naa it’s your logic that is flawed its well known that more people moan and make noise when not happy than people post how well a service is when happy.

      When things are working as expected most say nothing by default , when things aren’t people say a lot by default

      But then… You already knew that

    • Avatar No Clue

      “Naa it’s your logic that is flawed its well known that more people moan and make noise when not happy than people post how well a service is when happy.”

      Oh really is that your new dumb logic…
      http://www.ispreview.co.uk/review/top50.php

      Lets see AS I TYPE… the first ISP in that list that is available Nationally (IE not selling niche fibre or LLU products).
      is AAISP…
      http://www.ispreview.co.uk/review/products/171.html
      Position 4 in that list not bad.
      Most important…… 20 PAGES OF REVIEWS.

      BT on the other hand…
      http://www.ispreview.co.uk/review/products/7.html
      Currently position 39 in that list
      Most important…… ONLY 19 PAGES OF REVIEWS

      ERRRR your logic fails again. People when happy are more than willing to review and show it over dissatisfaction. AAISP has 20 PAGES OF MAINLY HAPPY REVIEWS BT HAS 19 PAGES OF UNHAPPY REVIEWS…. 20 is more than 19, i know you have maths problems but did not think they were this bad.

      “When things are working as expected most say nothing by default”
      Obviously just proven wrong.

      “when things aren’t people say a lot by default”
      So what you are saying there is by default things on BT do not work as expected so that is why people moan a lot about them.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      “ERRRR your logic fails again. People when happy are more than willing to review and show it over dissatisfaction.”

      People that use this website then?

      More than 20 people have good and bad things to say about AAISP , agreed? but.. there’s only 20 reviews, more than 19 people have good and bad things to say about BT but… there’s only 19 reviews.

      Its not hard to understand… ok maybe it is for you… but not for most.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      ^ people = pages full of people.

      I’m a prime example, I’ve used BT for years and never once written a positive review about them, I’m more than happy with there service, its very very rarely gone wrong and when it did it was fixed quickly.

      It just does what I expect it to and for that reason I don’t go off writing loads of great reviews about it because its just doing its job.

      If it was a pile of sht I’d be telling everyone, that’s how it works… and you know it. 🙂

    • Avatar No Clue

      LMAO and with that is the proof you did not even bother looking at the links until it was too late.

      There are 96 reviews in total for AAISP (NOT 20 LMAO)
      There are 94 reviews for BT

      The majority of reviews for AAISP are high rated happy reviews
      The majority of reviews for BT are low rated unhappy reviews

      Both have approximately the same number of reviews is total.

      This destroys your theories of……
      1) “..its well known that more people moan and make noise when not happy than people post how well a service is when happy.”
      and
      2 “When things are working as expected most say nothing by default , when things aren’t people say a lot by default”

      Go ahead though and try to argue what near 200 people have to say and think differently to your own wild theories though. Everyone is wrong except you after all. At least on your home planet.

    • Avatar Raindrops

      Well i come back from a bank holiday and what a shock 2 regular cretins defending BT again and trying to in some perverted fashion say reviews about AAISP and BT are of no worth.

      I spose they have a point, far better to go with independent feeling about BT such as.

      http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2014/03/isps-bt-ee-uk-attract-home-broadband-complaints-q4-2013.html

      http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2014/03/uk-isps-talktalk-bt-suffer-biggest-negative-feedback-consumers.html

      http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2013/12/ofcom-uk-satisfaction-survey-puts-talktalk-bottom-broadband.html

      No doubt though Ofcom also have it out for BT obviously and just love other providers. Well in someones head i imagine that is something how it goes.

    • Avatar George

      What is this i have come across? Oh it is Fred preaching the virtues of the oh so wonderful BT. The company that can not win an award to save its life, one of the lowest rated by consumers, and who Ofcom even feel are poor when it comes to actual product. Just another ordinary day of brilliance for the BT P.R machine.

  7. Avatar colin

    Fibre should not be not be mentioned by any ISP unless you are getting FTTP.At the end of the day…ADSL2 and VDSL can be said to be hybrid partial fibre products.

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