ASA rule against Vodafone on femtocell/Sure Signal advert
Wednesday 16 June 2010 10:48:10 by
The ASA have ruled that Vodafone can not run a poster advert for their
Sure Signal femtocell device in its current form following
numerous complaints from T-Mobile, O2 and other complainants. The femtocell
device, marketed as Vodafone Sure Signal, connects to a home broadband
connection and uses this to allow users to make phone calls via their mobile
phone as if they were using the Vodafone's mobile network. It requires a
minimum broadband speed of 1Mbps and a 3G mobile phone and should allow users
to ensure they can receive a mobile signal if they could not get one
Various complaints were raised including:
- the ad was misleading because it did not make clear that broadband and a 3G
handset were required
- the claim "can guarantee mobile signal" was challenged as to whether it
could be substantiated
- the ad implied Vodafone were superior to other networks and were capable of
guaranteeing coverage to all customers
- the ad was misleading because the product was not available for use on
- the ad was misleading because it did not make clear that additional payment
was required for the service
- the ad did not make it clear that the device could only be used by 4 people
at the same time
- the claim "Only Vodafone can guarantee mobile signal in your home" was
challenged as other providers offered femtocell and signal boosting
In the ASA's assessment, they ruled against Vodafone in 4 of these 7
- Upheld. Although the ad directed users to the Vodafone website, it was
deemed likely to mislead users by the omission that a 3G handset and broadband
- Upheld. Vodafone provided a response stating that the device would work
with a broadband speed of only 64Kbps, however the ASA felt that because
Vodafone did not control the availability or performance of the broadband
connection, they could not guarantee that a signal would be received, and
therefore the guarantee was likely to mislead.
- Upheld. Users unfamiliar with the Vodafone Sure Signal product or similar
devices may infer from the advert that Vodafone were making a "general
superiority claim" about their network and it was not clear that Vodafone were
infact promoting a new product.
- Not upheld. The device will work with a cable broadband connection.
- Upheld. As it was not clear that Vodafone were advertising a new product,
users might feel this was an inclusive feature of the Vodafone network rather
than a paid for product, and therefore the lack of pricing information was
likely to mislead.
- Not upheld. The advert didn't make claims that it could function with
multiple users or exaggerate its capability to this.
- Not upheld. No other femtocell service was commercially available in the UK
so this was unlikely to mislead.
Vodafone would need to add relevant details to future adverts for this
product as detailed by the ruling to ensure they meet the ASA's guidelines.