Some may recall Virgin Media being up in front of the ASA back in October 2008 when the ASA said that to make speed claims you had to have evidence from all providers.
December 2008 sees the same adjudication surface again, with the complaints still upheld but a change of wording.
The ASA noted Virgin had based their "fastest" claim on throughput speeds rather than on advertised "up to" download speeds. We considered, however, that readers would be used to definitions of broadband speed in terms of download speeds and were therefore likely to understand the claim "fastest" as an absolute claim that implied it was not possible to obtain a broadband connection in the UK that permitted a faster maximum download speed than Virgin's service. We understood that, on the basis of a previous ASA adjudication, cable broadband technology allowed users, on average, to experience a faster broadband service in terms of throughput speeds when compared to the equivalent ADSL based service. We understood that that was due to the fibre-optic and co-axial cable technology such services used. We understood, however, that it was possible for users to obtain a broadband service with a faster maximum broadband download speed than 20 Mb, on an ADSL2+ based service, allowing speeds of up to 24 Mb. Because we understood that it was possible in certain instances for some customers in optimum conditions to obtain a faster maximum broadband download speed than Virgin's 20 Mb service, we concluded that such an absolute claim was misleading.Extract from ASA Adjudication
What is interesting is that just 8 weeks on from that original ruling, we are in a situation where Virgin Media has gone public and said only two out of ten online speed testers are accurate on their 20Meg product, yet the firm was happy to use an award based on tests from a site such as Broadband Choices whose tester failed the Virgin Media 50Meg and 20Meg tests.
Comparing Virgin Media 20Meg cable services against ADSL products (up to 8Mbps) should be a contest with an obvious winner. ADSL2+ is likely to be a much closer race particularly once average results from customers are taken. While only 5 or 10% can get a faster download, people do manage it and one key advantage for many will be the choice of ADSL2+ providers and higher upstream speeds. One provider not mentioned at all is Ask4 who offer 25Mbps via fibre and Ethernet to developments around the UK, and it offers symmetric upload and download speeds starting at £15 a month for 4Mbps.
Virgin Media is launching its 50Mbps product on Monday 15th December, but Ask4 is keeping up by offering 50Mbps services to students in The Pinnacles Sheffield.