Tiscali has a number of adverts mentioned in this weeks Advertising Standards Authority rulings. The first relates to an advert on TV which some may remember where a man returned home and said to his wife "I've just got us Tiscali's best ever broadband offer...", the advert had several others variations on the same theme.
This first advert received eight complaints from viewers with people feeling that the up to 8Mbps claims were misleading as most customers would not achieve those speeds. The ASA has not upheld the complaints, and the adjudication goes into depth as to why. Interestingly the percentages of people getting various connection speeds (not through-put speed) appear in line with some old data from 2006.
The second adjudication covers two press adverts and one Internet promotion for Tiscali broadband. In this case TalkTalk and a member of the public made the following complaints.
The first two complaints were not upheld, the third was which seems slightly at odds with the previous adjudication and the final two complaints both were upheld.
It seems most likely that the speed complaint was upheld due to the lack of prominence of the qualifying text, which Tiscali has already increased in press adverts that it now runs. Tiscali apparently submitted some independent tests for the period August 2007 to September 2008 comparing the provider with 6 other providers, and Tiscali was second best with an average connection speed of 6.5Mbps, and the later set gave an average connection speed of 6Mbps. Unfortunately the ASA noted that the tests were carried out on one line or proportionally small number of lines and in a different set of bulk data the ASA noted no significant difference in connection speed between LLU and non-LLU lines - which technically sounds sensible since Tiscali largely still uses rate adaptive ADSL for its LLU the same as BT Wholesale (non-LLU).
The ruling reveals that the Tiscali LLU footprint was 52% when the ruling was compiled (58% on their website today), and those outside the LLU areas are offered a 25% discount on their phone line rental rather than free line rental, but it is a bit of work to find this out when browsing the products. The final complaint was upheld because the ASA felt people would think it meant the package prices started at £7.99 and not that it was a limited time promotion.
With the plethora of speed test awards handed out, this ruling shows one significant danger that can happen with ADSL and ADSL2+ products. If the population sample is not representative of the spread of line speeds across the country it can give a false impression, and with awards being increasingly used in advertising to score points over other providers one has to be cautious. One does wonder if in reality to some extent consumers don't care what speed their broadband connection connects at, what they notice and worry about is the actual speed when viewing various websites. For example, it is entirely possible for someone with provider A to have a connection connect at 5Mbps, but due to congestion, packet loss etc not be able to view a 1Mbps video stream, but someone with provider B connecting at only 2Mbps to be able to view the stream without any jitter.