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Digital Minister Supports Campaign Against Fake Fibre Adverts

Saturday, November 17th, 2018 (12:01 am) - Score 912
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The UK Government’s Digital Minister, Margot James, appears to have indirectly lent support to Cityfibre’s efforts to stop slower “hybrid fibre” (FTTC, HFC DOCSIS etc.) broadband ISPs from using the same marketing terms as significantly faster “full fibre” (FTTP) providers, which the MP agreed was “misleading advertising.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has declined to clamp down on the confusion (here) and as a result Cityfibre began fighting for a Judicial Review of the watchdog’s position (here), which if successful could force them to at least review their policy.. again.

So far most senior politicians have stayed out of this argument, at least they have since last year’s ASA review ruled that no major changes were necessary. But a debate in Parliament on Thursday, which focused on Community Broadband schemes, appears to have briefly reignited some interest after the topic was raised by the Conservative MP for Stirling, Stephen Kerr.

Question by Stephen Kerr (Stirling) (Con)

“The first point that I will make—and it is an obvious point—is about what we mean when we use the word “fibre”, because it is important to understand what is meant by it. Fibre-optic cable provides high-speed data connectivity. We should be clear about the difference between “fibre” and full fibre. “Fibre” is not full fibre; full fibre to the premises is capable of gigabit speeds, and is a solution fit for the future.

Most users currently have a much slower, less reliable and limited hybrid service that depends on pre-internet copper infrastructure that was designed to carry phone calls and not data. It is just not honest advertising to describe a hybrid broadband connection as “superfast fibre broadband”.

The Advertising Standards Authority should take a closer look at, and a more stringent approach to, the truthfulness of these claims, because they are plainly misleading.”

In response Margot James said, “I agree with my hon. Friend on the definition of what we mean by a full-fibre connection. We do not mean a hybrid version; we mean fibre to the premises. I sympathise with what he said about what I agree is misleading advertising.”

Meanwhile we expect Cityfibre’s case to reach some form of conclusion by around the very end of this year. However this does not itself completely guarantee that the ASA will move to make all of the desired changes, although they would have to change something.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he is also the founder of ISPreview since 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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4 Responses
  1. Lyncol

    The last ten years or so has seen great developments with DSL technology resulting in vast improvement on bandwidth for many. Superfast broadband in my opinion is a result of Superfast Copper/coax, but I can’t see the ISP’s calling it that. I would be happy to see the word ‘hybrid’ used where applicable to describe the service supplied.

  2. TheFacts

    She says that fibre to the premises can be described as ‘full fibre’. That still leaves the word fibre for FTTC or cable.

    • GNewton

      “That still leaves the word fibre for FTTC or cable.” No, it doesn’t! ASA has not done a proper job here.

  3. TheMatt

    yay. i complained to ofcom, got a copy pasta about how signifcant portions of networks are fibre so it’s ok to call VDSL fibre. I said what about VM saying “optical fibre” and delivering coax. No response.

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