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Advert for Hull ISP Wisper Broadband Banned for Misleading Speeds

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016 (2:01 pm) - Score 3,043
advertising standards authority uk 2016

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned a website advert for the Hull (East Yorkshire) focused wireless ISP Wisper Broadband after it claimed to offer “Super Fast … speeds of between 10 and 20 MBPS day and night“, but at least one customer only received 1-3Mbps.

The little known provider initially defended its promotion, which was seen on 16th November 2015, by noting that various factors can impact on the speeds customers achieve, such as faulty equipment and routers that picked up interference from other domestic appliances.

Curiously the ISP then goes on to claim that “the term ‘superfast’ had no real definition … other than it being significantly faster than ADSL” when their website first when live in 2013, although at that point we recall that the Government had been using an official definition of 24Mbps+ for around two years. Wisper also claimed that most of their customers received speeds above 30Mbps, but they failed to provide any evidence of this.

ASA Ruling (REF: A15-320447)

“We acknowledged that various factors could affect the speeds which consumers could achieve and noted Wisper Broadband’s assertion that many of their customers received speeds in excess of 30 Mbit/s. However, Wisper Broadband had not provided any data to demonstrate that their customers achieved the headline speed of 10–20Mbit/s, let alone speeds in excess of 30Mbit/s.

Because Wisper Broadband had not provided evidence that consumers could achieve speeds of between 10 and 20Mbps throughout the day, or that those speeds were superfast and therefore significantly faster than ADSL or ‘standard’ broadband services, we concluded that the claims were misleading and had not been substantiated.”

As usual the ASA banned the advert and told Wisper Broadband not to promote or claim service speeds that could not be achieved or substantiated. A quick look at the website shows that the provider has stopped listing speeds and merely refers to their package(s) as being “super broadband“, which is about as informative as mud.

The fact that the promotion also used MBPS, which technically speaking means MegaBytes rather than Megabits, is sadly not something that the ASA picked up on.

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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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7 Responses
  1. DTMark

    If I visit the Sky website it’s keen to sell me “superfast broadband”. The last time I looked, all the pages were labelled as this.

    If the delivered speed is less than 24Mbps (BT estimate is between 11 and 32, Sky picks 29 as the magic number), can I get the ASA to order Sky to remove the word “superfast” from their website on the basis that one of their customers did not get what was advertised?

    Personally I think it rather brave, and probably not smart, for a wireless provider to make a universal claim about speeds for all customers.

    It just seems odd that they’re picked on while so many big providers continue with false advertising like the above.

    • From what I can see, Sky’s broadband product comparison page prefers to just call their FTTC packages “Sky Fibre” and superfast doesn’t even get a single mention. After that they list the ‘up to’ speed for each, which is based off the ASA’s 10% typical speeds rule.

    • DTMark

      If I try a speed check, I get:

      Superfast Sky fibre broadband

      Great news, you can now add Sky fibre broadband at GU34 XXX with an estimated access line speed of – Mbps

      Odd that there’s no estimate, their site seems to be playing up a little.

    • karl

      Ive no idea about the ISP wisper DTMark but i imagine the likes of BT, Sky etc etc get away with it because during the order process at some point it will give a realistic (or at least half realistic) estimate of the speed you will get. If you then go and complain that you only get say for example 10Mb and that it is not “superfast” they at least have half a leg to stand on and can say they told you in advance of any payment 10Mb would be all you would get.

      Morally speaking though i agree with you all the ISPs are full of their own smelly stuff, our whole town is spose to have “superfast” FTTC, i know for a fact there are large areas that are lucky to get 20Mb let alone 24Mb and higher.

  2. Oggy

    That’s a bit of a careless Wisper.

  3. Mike

    Its my understanding that Wisper Broadband did in fact show several weeks of data from a large selection of their customers showing speeds of 20 to 35 mps, speed tests were done at speedtest.net at random times of the day and night.

    However the ASA say these are not proof and within the ASA’s guidance notes it clearly states it is very difficult to prove an average speed.

    What chance does anyone have of effectively proving speeds if whatever you show it is rejected…

    In addition, only 1 customer was reportedly showing slow speeds, who was this customer and what was their proof??? (The competition I suspect).Hmm…

    Very one sided if you ask me.

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