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Cityfibre Recruit TV Celeb Dominic Littlewood to Fight Fake Fibre Ads

Tuesday, September 25th, 2018 (2:19 pm) - Score 2,216

Fibre optic UK network builder Cityfibre has recruited TV celebrity Dominic Littlewood – famous for The One Show, Fake Britain and Cowboy Builders (among others) – to help support their on-going campaign against “misleading” uses of “fibre” terminology in adverts by slower hybrid fibre broadband ISPs.

The Coppersaurus campaign centres on the fact that hybrid fibre (part fibre) services, such as Openreach’s Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC / VDSL2) based technologies, use a mix of metallic (e.g. copper) and optical fibre cables, which makes them slower and less reliable than “full fibre” (FTTP) ISPs.

By comparison pure fibre optic ISPs (FTTP / FTTH) run their optical fibre cable all the way to your doorstep, which can thus deliver significantly faster and more reliable speeds (e.g. multi-Gigabit). In the past, when FTTP/H providers and networks were in the extreme minority, this debate wasn’t as important but now they’re growing.. rapidly (example).

However so far the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has declined to clamp down on the confusion (here) and as a result Cityfibre is fighting for a Judicial Review of the watchdog’s position (here), which if successful would force the ASA to at least review their policy. As part of that their new campaign has been helping to drum up support in the fight against “fake fibre ads“.

Now the operator has gone one step further by securing the support of recognisable TV consumer champion Dominic Littlewood, whom has today taken Cityfibre’s campaign to the doors of the ASA headquarters in London.

Dominic Littlewood said:

“Consumers in the UK have consistently been buying broadband services that aren’t really what the ads are telling us they are.

We need change to help educate UK consumers about the differences between true fibre and copper-based broadband services, so that they are well prepared for the copper switch off when it comes.

It shouldn’t be the responsibility of the consumer to work out what is actually the real thing – nor should they be paying a premium for a technology that they are not currently getting.”

Greg Mesch, CEO of CityFibre, said:

“It’s great to have someone like Dominic supporting the campaign, as he champions consumer rights, takes companies and regulatory bodies to task where injustice is being done and sees that’s the case here.

Fundamentally, the ASA still has its head in the sand on broadband advertising. It is ignoring the bigger picture on the future of the UK’s full fibre connectivity while consumers lose trust and unknowingly overpay for second-rate services. This must change and quickly.”

Meanwhile the court case is steadily nearing a conclusion, although even if successful the onus would still be on the ASA to decide what, if anything, they should change. A victory might also place a question mark over Gigabit capable Fibre-to-the-Building (FTTB) providers, such as Hyperoptic, where only a small bit of the overall connection is technically copper (i.e. the short run of cabling inside a building).

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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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26 Responses
  1. NE555 says:

    “pure fibre optic ISPs (FTTP / FTTH) run their optical fibre cable all the way to your doorstep”

    It doesn’t stop at your doorstep: they drill a hole through the wall and run it into your living room!

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      It’s just a turn of phrase and you know what it means, so no need for exclamation marks 🙂 .

    2. Andrew Johnson says:

      Thank you Captain Pedantic.

  2. TheFacts says:

    Dominic supports the campaign because CityFibre are paying him.

    1. GNewton says:

      So what is your point? The ASA needs to get its act together and stop false advertising.

    2. FibreFred says:

      His point is (how it has been missed I’m unsure).

      Dominic didn’t just get up one day and say “Enough is enough, this just cannot carry on”.

      This isn’t an independent show, with no connection or allegiance to any particular party.

      He is being paid to promote a particular point of view.

    3. joe says:

      “Dominic supports the campaign because CityFibre are paying him.”

      Nothing wrong with that, no different to celebs being paid by BT, Virgin and other organisations to promote their business and views. Not sure why anyone would have issue with it.

  3. FibreFred says:

    Oh dear….

    So sad.

  4. Fastman says:

    wonder if he’s got FTTC at Home — that would be ironic

    1. Archie says:

      This made me laugh.

      Thing is though… what if it’s all that’s available where he lives?

      Not so ironic then.

  5. CarlT says:

    I suppose it’s harmless enough.

    Wonder how they are getting on with ramping up their construction efforts?

    VM are soaking up an awful lot of contractor resources, BT some of the rest for remedial works on blocked ducts alongside pole replacement and provisioning of entirely new poles.

  6. Meadmodj says:

    I think Cityfibre doth protest too much. The ASA can’t ban the use of word Fibre and if they are successful it will only result in minor rewording to “Hybrid Fibre” used by MJ or something similar. What else does the F stand for in FTTC?. OR/VM can rightly argue that Fibre plays a significant contribution to delivery of their products.
    The real reason Cityfibre are so concerned is because they are clearly scared that the conversion rate from FTTC to their FTTP network and the required up-selling of their products will not meet their business cases and the pomises to their investors.
    Regardless of what happens next March the economy will grow slowly over the next 2/3 years and a large percentage of consumers are likely to continue to regard FTTC a cost effective and sufficient service regardless of the terms used in advertising. In addition OR/ISPs have still some way to go to reduce pricing and we are seeing freebies etc to extend contracts out to 18 months and possibly more.

    1. FibreFred says:

      Exactly this… smacks of desperation.

      And their concerns wouldn’t even be resolved if they got their way. People will still buy other non-FTTP bundles from other providers. For the same reasons why others buy non Virgin broadband when it is available in there area.

      Not because there’s anything wrong with Virgin, but because people want choice and don’t always want/need top speeds.

    2. Brian says:

      If people are happy with Fibre being use to describe FTTC, would people object to FTTE (Fibre To The Exchange), which would describe my slow ADSLmax perfectly.

    3. FibreFred says:


      The product you buy comes from the exchange to you. How it gets to the exchange is nothing to do with the product you buy.

      So… no… your example (as well as Fibre Dial-up) does not stand.

    4. Meadmodj says:

      @Brian. Those on poor or non-existant broadband will no doubt jump at the chance of FTTP if it comes their way. However that is not Cityfibre’s target areas for their consumer focused network and you won’t get a guarantee from Cityfibre to cover every household in an area. Marketeers will simply move forward with innovative wording to sell services.
      Yesterday I happened to be in London in a borough with terraced housing in parallel streets converted to flats with multiple occupancy rental with students etc. These are old properties and difficult for Fibre install. There appeared to be a FTTC cabinet on every other corner which means that all these premises can get 65-70Mbps. FTTC will die gracefully eventually but prophecies of its demise are premature even if it was just called Superfast.

    5. boggits says:

      Or (in full cynic mode) CF have decided this is a good way of raising their profile as part of their advertising strategy.

      As a famous actor once said
      “I don’t care what you say about me, as long as you say something about me, and as long as you spell my name right.”

    6. CarlT says:

      Not even remotely cynical, boggits, this is exactly what they are doing. Anyone buying into the suggestion they are doing this for altruistic reasons I have a bridge to sell you.

  7. occasionally factual says:

    How could anyone misspell FibreCity?

  8. TheFacts says:

    ‘so that they are well prepared for the copper switch off when it comes’

    I have some spare time today, what do I need to do?

    1. GNewton says:

      @TheFacts: “I have some spare time today, what do I need to do?”
      Come up with some useful contributions on this forum. E.g. how do you propose to achieve a nationwide fibre coverage?

    2. Meadmodj says:

      @GNewton. Not by slating hybrid fibre/copper. FTTC may actually become the consumers saviour from the new FTTP monopolies and their imposed proprietary CPE kit. The copper network will be us for a long time. The Cityfibre statement is ludicrous as it will only be recovered by OR as they progress with FTTP and the scrap value contributes.
      We do not want consumers forced to more costly capability they do not need yet.

    3. Joe says:

      Hybrid may survive in rural areas longer (where fttp cost is excessive) but we will see large scale switch off of copper in the near term. Hull and IoW look like the earliest places.

  9. Paul Rhodes says:

    Jeez, get a life that someone would pay a celebrity to advertise. Pretty sure Kevin Bacon is not a registered charity.

    People are paying for “Superfast Fibre” and think that they are paying for the best. That’s a complete lie.

    It’s like re-badging a 2.5 Focus ST as a Hybrid to beat the congestion charge because both have a petrol engine and a battery. Or gold-plated as gold. It’s the base metal that lets you down!

    Understanding that they can get Full Fibre as Ultrafast or HyperFast should make people wonder why they are paying a premium price for a second-rate product.

    1. Meadmodj says:

      Where does “premium price” come in. Look at the Openreach FTTC wholesale prices. Most of the cost is in the ISP back haul and wrap. The UK government chose a market driven approach and as usual consumers pay what the market will stand. Most people know FTTC is over the phone line due to the inclusive line rental and those that don’t would be none the wiser what ever its called.

  10. A_Builder says:

    Yup, but the solution to this might actually be staring everyone in the face.

    At some point when there is lots of nice new FTTP decorating phone poles and ducts near you BT/OR are going to have to start to differentiate between FTTP and hybrid to drive the upgrade adoption rates.

    I would not be at all surprised if BT/OR quietly dropped the “fibre” from FTTC and Gfast of their own volition pretty soon. In areas where there is FTTP they *might* start to differentiate in the van logos as this can be localised. Just a thought.

    There is such a thing as self interest………and there has to be a commercial tipping point………

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