The ASA has been quiet on all things broadband for a short while, but the usual pattern of self-regulation with providers complaining about each other continues, with BT complaining about the use of 'superfast' in relation to 4G mobile broadband. The EE website was the target of one complaint and another was the Kevin Bacon adverts.
"The ASA noted the term "superfast" had come into common usage in relation to fixed line broadband following the introduction of new technologies such as fibre-optic broadband and that it was used to distinguish itself from those speeds previously achieved by ADSL. Therefore, whilst consumers may not generally have been aware of any specific speed which defined "superfast" on fixed line, we considered they would understand "superfast" to relate to fibre-optic outperforming standard ADSL and would expect it to have an industry defined minimum speed. We noted Ofcom had defined 'superfast' as both greater than 24 Mbit/s and, later, 30 Mbit/s and that a 2012 Ofcom report on the performance of fixed line broadband specifically stated that "superfast" was used in reference to speeds in excess of 30 Mbps and that this was consistent with the EU's digital Agenda scorecard definitions which defined "fast" fixed line broadband as being greater than 30 Mbit/s. A later 2013 Ofcom research document on the European Broadband Scorecard stated 'standard' broadband comprised technologies capable of providing speeds over 144 bit/s and less than 30 Mbit/s and that 'superfast' comprised technologies capable of providing speeds equal to or greater than 30 Mbit/s."ASA assessment in relation to complaints
In the end the ASA told EE off for the way it used superfast on its website, but allowed the use in the TV advert because the TV ad illustrated the difference in speed between old fashioned 3G services and current 4G speeds. The future for the superfast mobile broadband advertising is that superfast has been deemed OK so long as accurate speed comparisons are clear to the public.
EE in its response did manage to get in a little dig at BT, but scored an own goal with a misunderstanding of the current DCMS broadband policy.
"They said the BT understanding of the policy as defining "superfast" internet as speeds of 24 Mps or above was flawed and that the DCMS objective was to achieve a transformation in broadband access, with everyone in the UK able to access fixed line broadband speeds (at least 24 Mbit/s) but that the document in no way stated that "superfast" was a reference to specific internet speeds (whether fixed or mobile)."Extract from EE response to ASA