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ASA reviewing use of the word fibre in broadband advertising
Tuesday 04 April 2017 10:43:20 by Andrew Ferguson

The use of 'fibre broadband' in advertising to talk about G.993.2 and DOCSIS 3.0 (also known as Very High Speed Digital Subscriber Line and cable broadband) services has been under attack for some years and after clearing Virgin Media many years ago to use fibre in its advertising the ASA is reconsidering its stance given the political pressure for more full fibre (Fibre to the Premises - FTTP) roll-out.

"The UK Government’s recently published Digital Strategy made clear its commitment to invest in full-fibre broadband infrastructure, which is likely to make those services available to significantly more people, and also made clear its view that the term ‘fibre’ should only be used to describe full-fibre broadband services. A recent debate in Parliament saw those MPs who participated also expressing their concerns about the use of the term ‘fibre’ to describe part-fibre broadband services.

In response to that context and those concerns, we are now scoping a review of how we interpret the Advertising Codes when judging the use of the term ‘fibre’ to describe broadband services. In particular, we will be considering whether the use of that term is likely to cause people to be materially misled. Our work has already begun and we will provide an update with more information by the summer."

ASA on use of 'fibre' in advertising

Many times when talking about VDSL2 (which can also be called Fibre to the Cabinet - FTTC) we use the partial fibre description and full fibre is evolving into the public friendly version of referring to Fibre to the Premises. Whatever the ASA decides on it is likely to please some and upset some, but some clarity would be welcome and then we can avoid adverts that promote fibre optic broadband but clearly show a coax cable with a metal core.

One of the problems going forward is that DOCSIS 3.1 that will arrive from Virgin Media at some point may be offering Gigabit download speeds and even with just DOCSIS 3.0 out there now average speeds for Virgin Media are close to full fibre services (and beating some), and while sweating the assets Openreach has will allow them to roll-out a 100 Mbps and faster service to millions quickly.

Perhaps the question is less about the use of the word fibre in advertising, but the constant pressure to dumb down and not talk about technical definitions but rather find safe marketing friendly phrases.


Posted by AndrueC 23 days ago
If nothing else that gave me a damn' good laugh. Heaven forbid that anyone should be misled :-/
Posted by doowles 23 days ago
It was an utterly ridiculous decision to let them use "Fiber" in their marketing all those years ago. I said it at the time and I will say it again now. Virgin use Coaxial cables (not fiber) and BT use Copper cables (not fiber either). Its just a complete lie designed to mislead the consumer.
Posted by lincsat 23 days ago
More important IMO is the use of fast, superfast, ultrafast, super-dooper fast etc. They should clear that up first. All broadband would use fibre somewhere in the backhaul, even a Dial-up ISP would use fibre at some stage
Posted by doowles 23 days ago
I'm pretty sure even my 28.8bps dial up broadband in the 90s used fiber at some point in the chain, so that argument is totally invalid as well.
Posted by uniquename 23 days ago
Fibre. Not Fiber.
Posted by Icaras_ 23 days ago
@doowles It's called fibre. We are in the UK.
Posted by AndyCZ 23 days ago
"Its just a complete lie designed to mislead the consumer."

Have many consumers complained to the ASA that they ordered a "fibre" service and did not get fibre installed to their premises?

I think the vast majority of people do not care about how the technology is delivered, they just want the speed that is offered to them.
Posted by AndyCZ 23 days ago
I should add that I don't even think ADSLMax has complained about this...
Posted by zyborg47 23 days ago
I will try this again on e the correct article
about time, Bt with their so called superfast fibre stuck on their vans, ok I know that is BTOR, but still and they have got superfast fibre on their cabinets, surly that is false advertising.

should call it awful hybrid pile of muck
Posted by Bob_s2 23 days ago
OFCOM will have no choice but to order the ISP's to change their marketing. The current marketing in my view is clearly in breach of the Consumer Right Act 2015 as it miss describes as to what they are selling
Posted by Bob_s2 23 days ago
Quote "More important IMO is the use of fast, superfast, ultrafast, super-dooper fast etc.

Those terms can be used but only if there is an industry wide definition ass to what they mean and currently there is not
Posted by CarlThomas 23 days ago
Have to love this. On the one hand the ASA are pandering to politicians by opening this issue up again, on the other Ofcom are repeating their errors with LLU and disincentivising FTTP as much as possible.
Posted by 2doorsbob 23 days ago
I think all ISP'S are guilty of this but people like martin lewis don't help either by driving prices down, People want fttp performance for adsl money CarlThomas is also right not enough help given by ofcom to encourage isp's to use more fibre . I see big building projects for students in and around sheffield yet the council have blocked project lighting due the them resurfacing the roads its a joke i bet the students get looked after
Posted by nervous 23 days ago

I don't think people are being misled. Fact is I live in an area that got 8Mb/s down on ADSL2+ before FTTC and now could get full 80/10 VDSL service. Does it really matter to 99.99% of people that their is copper inbetween their router and the cabinet.

One thing I have learned about people they not only don't know, they don't want to know how stuff works as long as it works.
Posted by nervous 23 days ago
The information is out there if anyone wants to know so I don't understand this constant clamour to dumb everything down so the most ignorant people on earth can understand it.

Surely it would be better if we encouraged them to find out for themselves and learnt something.

Maybe we should explain to them what a router, switch or a modem is and spend millions doing it. Why? They don't care.
Posted by awoodland 23 days ago
Great. I assume that next ASA will wake up and realise that many FTTP providers (e.g Hyperoptic) don't actually sell broadband. (Since it's 1000BASE-LX they technically sell baseband products, judging by what's in the boxes they install)
Posted by seb (Favicon staff member) 22 days ago
ASA are trying to close the stable door after the horse has bolted. They failed in dealing with this when they had a chance.. pretending to review this because of some government strategy change is ridiculous. Everyone called hybrid solutions 'fibre' now.. we accept it (somewhat begrudgingly).. they should look at their own governance and expertise to fix issues like this so they don't make such silly decisions in the first place.
Posted by Michael_Chare 22 days ago
@nervous. If the cable coming to your property is copper then clearly it is not fibre. Further it will likely suffer from cross talk and cable distance issues which would not be the case if it was fibre. The Kcom FTTP customers appear to like their service judging by the take up rate.
Posted by 2doorsbob 22 days ago
I think the wholesale cost should be a scaled to what the line will support ,it's not fair that if your on a long/impacted line that you pay the same as someone who can get the top speed
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 22 days ago
That idea of scaling went out the window last week, when Ofcom proposed that the 40/10 service be just a few pence more than the 18/2 VDSL2 service, and cheaper than the 40/2 service.
Posted by comnut 21 days ago
nervous: Oh I wish everyone was smart enough to understand... the problem is, 80% of people are too busy doing the important jobs that would make 'smart people' die from boredom... :)
or just too busy 'surviving' in this expensive world... :/

Of course, the above people buy a LOT of stuff!!
Posted by comnut 21 days ago
And hey, My MUM is one of those! and a lot of good friends :) I understand the problem...
Posted by comnut 21 days ago
Michael_Chare: loose definitions again...

The cable that supplies your satellite dish is copper, able to reliably transfer a Giga Hertz signal for your box..

Virgin uses the same coaxial cable (copper) to supply the new VIVID 300 BB... :)

Th e problem with BT, is it uses *unscreened* twisted pair copper cables, unchanged since about 1900...
Posted by comnut 21 days ago
But back to topic, how do get a snappy phrase that would please advertisers??
Posted by comnut 21 days ago
WWWombat has the right word...
A 'technophobe' user may be able to handle hugely complex, high profile financial accounts with ease, but be scared ***less by computers..
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 21 days ago
@comnut Where has WWWombat made that comment?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 21 days ago
@Comnut while your comment may not have been intended to be rude, I was just asking to get clarification to ensure you were not mis-quoting them. Comment removed as am sure many other posters would not like it if a 'friend' was to reveal information about their employment. If WWWombat is happy for that to be public knowledge they need to reveal that info themselves.
Posted by comnut 21 days ago
you have rather strange ideas....

" if a 'friend' was to reveal information about their employment" ,
As they have offices in 776 cities across 157 countries, it would be rather difficult to find an *unnamed* person.... :P

and note that we all know exactly where you work.. it is on this website...
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 21 days ago
My situation is different to other posters, who have a reasonable expectation to privacy. Whereas since I work here my job is public record.

Now they may not have minded at all, but would need to hear that from them.
Posted by leexgx 20 days ago
gloating that your less than 100m from the FTTC cab is most likely going to net you 80/20 connection, not everyone is so close to there cab

VDSL should not be classed as fibre broadband due to its random nature on what speed you're going to get

Virgin main issue why it should not be called fibre broadband is there lack of correcting utilization issues fast (takes them on avg 2 years to fix utilization problems on the Coxa side of the cab and that is not due to them fixing the issue its due to a DOCSIS upgrade typically) Virgien should be more fined for not adding more capacity
Posted by leexgx 20 days ago
my 230mb connection runs at around 130mb ish at 5-6pm, and high pings and jitter
Posted by comnut 19 days ago
Technophobes have been around since the 17th century, but was then called Luddites..
Posted by tommy45 18 days ago
Maybe ASA should consider a more appropriate name ASSA or ARSE ? Yet another quango
Posted by comnut 17 days ago
more capacity means more money, that users will not pay...
Posted by Tropi 17 days ago
Correct terminology does matter, enormously. All trust is built on clear, mutual understanding of language. Without it, black can be white and No can mean Yes. Clear understanding is critical.
Posted by B4RN_Volunteer 17 days ago
Tis simple my friend - if it is Fibre Optic to your property (FTTP/FTTH), then you get a true Gigabit symmetrical, download/upload, plus bandwidth.

Copper in this instance is a Victorian age technology, suitable for some purposes but not fit for 21st business and personal communications.
Posted by B4RN_Volunteer 17 days ago
Summary - Use the term Fibre Optic ONLY where it applies to the consumers delivery point...
Posted by leshewitt 17 days ago
Interesting discussion but let's be practical about broadband/fibre provision. I live in a house built in 1981 in a Close. It's wired with BT copper and we used to get about 5mb download. Openreach recently installed a FTTC cabinet on the main road and now I get 38mb download. All of this at an OK price without major roadworks. FTTP would be great, but at what cost & disruption? (Not strictly on topic I suppose...)
Posted by leshewitt 17 days ago
...and what do you call it? As a retired IT guy, I can follow most of the initials but "Fibre broadband" is near enough for me and the vast majority of the general public.
Posted by New_Londoner 17 days ago
Important you understand that having FTTP does NOT automatically mean symmetric bandwidth is provided. Nor does it mean the provider is not affected by contention (as claimed by another B4RN person). Nor does it imply reliable service (as shown by B4RN and Gigaclear outages).

In short, fibre is not imbued with magical properties!
Posted by Somerset 16 days ago
@B4RN_Volunteer - what minimum speed would you say is required for '21st business and personal communication'?
Posted by comnut 14 days ago
leshewitt: is that a 'speedtest' figure or a download of data from a website?? :)
Posted by comnut 14 days ago
New_Londoner: yes,it is very like cars, YMMV...

they say '50 Miles per gallon' but of course it depends on how many big hills, long straights, long winding roads, and of course how much other traffic is on the road, reducing your speed, and wasting petrol!!! :)

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