Virgin Media once again has been the subject of an adjudication by the ASA with the complainants being Sky and the ASA. Both complaints were upheld and relate to a national press advert that promoted the fact that cable broadband should connect at the same speed all the time, whereas ADSL is variable depending on a variety of factors.
The complaint from Sky centred around the fact that it believed Virgin Media would not have sufficient capacity to provide all customers with 20Mbps at the same time. The ASA challenged whether the comparison between the cable and ADSL services was misleading and unfair.
The ASA upheld the complaints it seems mainly based on the belief that consumers will believe the 20Mbps claim to refer to speeds they will see in the home, i.e. actual throughput speeds. Virgin Media did have a footnote in the advert warning that "actual 'throughput' cable broadband speeds were affected by user volume, as well as the speed and capacity of users' computers" but the ASA felt this was a contradiction after promoting the 10 out of 10 will get 20Mbps headline claim.
One aspect not considered is that the 3 out of 10 claim for ADSL at 8Mbps or faster was based on a national figure, where as the 10 out of 10 for Virgin Media actually only referred to those who have the service already. It is not uncommon to find people in Virgin Media cable areas not able to get the service because they refuse to install due to distance from existing network to the property, or someone has refused to sign a wayleave order, the later is more common in rented accommodation and flats. So while the phrase 'post-code lottery' can be applied to ADSL, it can in a slightly different sense be applied to cable broadband as well.