In November, Virgin Media started a new campaign to 'stop the broadband con' in relation to broadband speeds being advertised by competitors. The company complained that broadband speed advertising was misleading when it was sold as "up to" a specific speed, and it wanted other providers to be open and honest about the speeds of services it is selling. Sky have taken offence to the campaign and has had lawyers approach Virgin, giving them eight hours to withdraw the campaign before they contacted the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) requesting them to investigate.
"[The adverts] clearly go beyond the scope of robust and objective comparison and amount to an unjustified denigratory attack on Sky and its business practices."Osborne Clarke, Lawyers acting on behalf of Sky
Virgin is in a somewhat unique position as the cable broadband service that it provides doesn't suffer from the same slow downs over distance that you see with traditional DSL based broadband using phone lines. This gives it a distinct advantage in that the speeds it offers will be the underlying connection speed, which is not the case with broadband services marketed as 'up to 8Mbps' or 'up to 24meg'.
"All ISPs provide individual line speed estimates before any customer signs up, meaning consumers are making informed decisions about which broadband services are right for them. In helps explain the high broadband satisfaction levels Ofcom found in its own research. On that basis, we've asked the ASA to investigate Virgin Media's campaign, which it now is."Sky Spokesman
BT have also complained about the campaign to the ASA, and O2 defended the way in which speeds are described for their broadband products. The ASA have launched a consultation in to broadband speeds and the use of the phrasing 'up to' in describing products, and this may help resolve some of the issues with users being confused about what speeds can be received. Sky obviously feel the campaign needs further action than this, and we will wait to see what the ASA decide.