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Gigaclear told to include UP TO in adverts by ASA
Wednesday 05 March 2014 11:14:56 by Andrew Ferguson

Broadband has always been a world of acronyms and technology buzz words and squaring that up with the boring world of advert regulation is always a challenge. This week sees Gigaclear who one of the firms building FTTP networks in the UK presenting there case to the ASA after a complaint.

The complaint was around whether customers would always receive the stated speeds on the Gigaclear website, and that additional factors would kick in. The ASA has upheld the complaint with the assessment as below:

"The ASA understood Gigaclear was a niche provider, serving a geographically defined customer base. We also understood they had a significant backhaul capacity in proportion to the relatively low numbers of customers. We acknowledged their belief that the structure of their network ensured users could achieve the stated speed capacity.

The ad included details of the stability of Gigaclear's network; noting that the network ran at 1000 Mbps for uploads and downloads regardless of time of day, weather or distance from the cabinet. The ad also made no reference to the speed of the service being 'up to'. In that context, we considered consumers would understand the ad to mean that customers would always receive the stated speed capacity for the service they purchased.

Whilst we acknowledged that the majority of the line-speed data demonstrated that the advertiser's customers received the stated speed capacity, we were concerned that a number of instances, in the relatively small data sample, showed that Gigaclear's customers did not achieve the stated speed capacity. Because we considered the speed claims were absolute in nature and because we had not seen sufficient evidence to support those claims, we concluded that the ad breached the Code."

Upheld assessment from the ASA

The current advertising code requires providers to only advertise an up to speed that at least 10% customers can get, and when challenged to have the data to demonstrate this. For the slower Gigaclear products with the provided speed set at 10% more than the purchased speed this is easy enough, but on the 1000 Mbps service things are a little more difficult. Since the fibre itself may be running at 1.1 Gbps or faster, but once you allow for a NAT router which even if it has GigE LAN Ethernet ports will never produce a speed of 1000 Mbps for TCP/IP data then life is much more complex. The fastest speed from GigE Ethernet is 941 Mbps (if jumbo frames are enabled for TCP data, slightly higher for UDP traffic).

At the end of the day it is impossible to guarantee speeds across the Internet, even expensive leased lines only guarantee speeds while inside the providers network, once you hit shared peering links you are fighting with potentially millions of other users. The Gigaclear website appears to have adopted the ruling, as its fastest product is now listed as up to 1000 Mbps.

Comments

Posted by bartman007 over 3 years ago
"Up To" is a get out clause for all ISP's when capacity is at bursting point. It should not be used if someone uses technology without knowing what it is capable of doing.
Posted by mdar5 over 3 years ago
I was the complainant to the ASA.
It arose after a local conversation where I was told that with Gigaclear you would always get the stated speed.
I explained clearly that this was not true and why it was not so for domestic grade connections.
I was told it was, their website effectively said this and I was talking rubbish.
I know I'm not, so I complained to the ASA last year.

This has implications for all future FTTP marketing so the ASA investigation was detailed to establish future policy on this point.

…….and the lesson is not to tell someone who knows a lot that they are talking rubbish!

Posted by herdwick over 3 years ago
Level playing field - you can only advertise a speed that at least 10% of your users can witness on speed tests and you must say "up to" even on fixed rate services. The rules are clear and "up to 700M" is probably appropriate.
Posted by bartman007 over 3 years ago
Its nice to see someone that knows how it all works mdar5. A bit shocked that someone in a networking company told you that rubbish. BUt some isp's still use it to get out of spending money on upgrades that are needed in a lot of area's.
Posted by mdar5 over 3 years ago
@bartman007
I subsequently gatecrashed a Gigaclear community meeting quietly myself, sat in the corner and was amazed to see in response to a question specifically about this point from the floor that the reply from Gigaclear was yes you got the full speed 24/7/365.

The ASA took their time over this one with several to/fro's as the implications for the future advertising of FTTP were clear.
Posted by Somerset over 3 years ago
If the interface runs at 1G then it is impossible to have 941M as said above, so should be up to 941M?

With a eg. 300M service that would be possible as the interface would be 1G.

So where is the speed measured to?
Posted by adslmax over 3 years ago
Need 2Gigabit Ethernet Lan, 2Gigabit Wireless too
Posted by mpellatt over 3 years ago
Let's face it, to be 100% correct ISPs should state the connection speed to the nearest aggregation point. Anything behind that will always be contended. Always. Guaranteed.

Then we'd get into a right royal debate about where the aggregation point is. And this would be fine for DSL links, but not for a shared media architecture like VM. So I guess the answer, to be "fair" across all providers, has to be for everyone to state "up to". It's just that some providers will be more "up to" than others, to paraphrase Orwell. And you'll need to be pretty technically aware to tell them apart....
Posted by SMabille over 3 years ago
Unless you have an uncontended line, you always have a theoretical risk of contention but in reality:
On a 50:1, out of the 49 other users sharing 1Gpbs, 20 won't be on, 20 using <1Mbps average browsing, 8 using 10-20Mbps watching 2 HD stream , 1 might use more (At 1Gpbs you run out of data quickly).
The "issue" is that no servers have enough bandwidth to serve multiple users at that speed. Sony, with 45GB games peak at 50Mbps, independent of Gigaclear.
The internet is sized on the user having <16 Mbps. Services are designed for the 90-99% not the 0.01%
Posted by Michael_Chare over 3 years ago
Most of the current Gigaclear products don't claim to offer anywhere near 1000Mbps. The speeds are 50, 100 and 200Mbps. Since these speeds are much less than the network can run at it is quite possible that they are achievable.

I don't see any 'up to' speeds on the Hyperoptic website.

Posted by chrysalis over 3 years ago
mdar5 I would like a detailed explanation, To me "up to" should be used to indicate contention to slow things down however due to recent abuse of the term "up to" now effectively means in the uk that the connection speed will vary, however gigaclear wont have variable connection speeds so what was the reasoning for the complaint?
Posted by Kronos2001 over 3 years ago
Without seeing the speed data I can't be sure. but this ruling appears to say that an ISP has to factor in congestion beyond their network when stating available speed.

"Up to" in the DSL world is really down to line sync as this is the major limiting factor for many people. Your service may be ADSL2+ with 16Mbps or 24Mbps max sync. However if your line is long you won't get anywhere near. FTTP does not have this problem.

I'm not surprised by this ruling. This is the same ASA that said "unlimited" was OK even when not true because of a FUP or similar restriction.
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