The Register has the news that the Advertising Standards Authority is currently looking into six complaints it has had regarding advertising for the Wanadoo 8Mbps service. Perhaps most telling is that three of the complaints are fellow service providers (BT, Bulldog and Tiscali).
No full ruling has been published yet, but the early suggestions are that the complaints revolve around the speed of service and the availability of the 8Mbps service in the UK. In terms of availability, it was available on 15 exchanges back in November 2005, and plans were to unbundle up to another 135. How many are currently unbundled we do not know.
The issue of speed of service and how this is handled in advertising is going to become a large issue during 2006. Until now it was fairly easy advertising an up to 2Mbps service, since generally more than 50% of households could get that sort of speed, some estimates put the percentage a fair deal higher too possibly as high as 80%. With the provision of 8Mbps services and ADSL2+ rolling out at up to 24Mbps the proportion getting the headline speeds will reduce due to line length/quality issues. Some reports have suggested that 50% of UK phone lines are 2km or less in length, giving an estimated top speed of 15Mbps using ADSL2+. There is one other issue with advertising an 8Mbps service, using ADSL you will never actually get an 8Mbps speed download, due to overheads in moving the data over the line, the maximum throughput for an 8Mbps line speed, is around 7.2Mbps. On ADSL2+ it is around 22Mbps allowing for the overheads again.
The ASA ruling if it upholds complaints against Wanadoo, may have implications for other providers, and just possibly may see clearer advertising. Just maybe we may see advertisers quoting what percentage of homes have the service available, and an estimated typical line speed.
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