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By: MarkJ - 30 June, 2010 (7:53 AM)
asa uk orange mobile broadband 3g coverageThe UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a crucial complaint by Three (3) against a regional press advert for Orange UK's Mobile Broadband service. The advert boasted that Orange's "3G network covers more people in the UK than any other operator", which has been the subject of a long running dispute between itself and 3.

Issue

Hutchison 3G UK Ltd challenged whether the claim "The Orange 3G network covers more people in the UK than any other operator" could be substantiated, because they believed that they had the largest 3G network in the UK, based on population coverage.

Assessment - Upheld

We acknowledged that the complainant, Hutchison 3G, believed it had a greater population coverage than Orange. We understood that each 3G network had its own approach to substantiation and verification of coverage claims in respect of both geographic and population coverage, meaning that their methodologies were not directly comparable. Because Orange had not shown that the population coverage data they had supplied for their competitors networks was collected and reported on the same basis as their own, we considered that the claim "covers more people in the UK than any other operator" had not been substantiated.

We concluded that the ad was likely to mislead.

The ad breached CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation), 7.1 (Truthfulness) and 19.1 (Other comparisons).

Orange has been warned not to re-post the advert again in its current form. In another victory for 3, Orange was also told not to compare their population coverage with that of competitors unless they could demonstrate that such claims were based on directly comparable measurement and reporting methods.

There's currently no easy or completely reliable method to accurately compare coverage and Three (3) has come out stronger in other studies.
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