ASA raps ntl's knuckles over 'five times faster' claim
The Advertising Standards Authority published an adjudication on 8th June 2005 against the ntl Group Ltd in relation to advertising for ntl's "3 for £30" triple play package. This offered a telephone service, cable TV and a 300kbps downstream cable broadband package. A viewer objected to the advertisement on the basis that the downstream speed was the only part of the service five times faster than standard dial-up. The full ASA adjudication can be read here, the file is in the PDF format.
The ASA has decided that the complaint should be upheld, and has issued a note to advertisers that when advertising the speed of broadband it should be made clear whether it is the download or upload speed being referred to. Interestingly the ASA noted the increased use of upstream by consumers, with the increase in use of digital cameras as one example. The actual upstream on the old ntl 300kbps service was only 64kbps. This is only about two to three times faster than the upstream from dial-up.
What is clear is that service providers need to be careful about claims them make in advertising. We would also like to hope they take the same care and attention on information provided on their own websites. One issue that is becoming more common is where a provider claims an uncapped service, but hidden carefully in the terms and conditions are clauses allowing them to throttle or limit your speed of service if you go over an unpublished limit. As broadband becomes even more of a massed market product, clear and upfront terms and conditions need to be forced on providers. Too many people appear to be getting sucked in by amazing headline pricing, to discover all too late that a provider is not really as unlimited or uncapped as they sometimes make out.