ASA position on "up to" 8 Mbps services strengthened
Following complaints by NTL and members of the public, the Advertising Standards Authority (www.asa.org.uk) has this morning published an adjudication against Bulldog Communications regarding its advertising of an "up to 8 meg" Broadband service as part of the "The gate is open" campaign.
The complainants made the argument that only a small number of users (NTL argued 35%) within a very short distance (3 km) of the telephone exchange, would be able to receive speeds close to 8 Mbps, and that beyond this the speed drop was significant due to the line quality not being capable of delivering faster services with the current technology being used.
Bulldog responded by saying their advertising was designed in line with previous ASA judgements using the words "up to" to indicate the top speed might not be achieved by all users, and indicated that over half of users achieved speeds of 6 Mbps or more. The Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre agreed with Bulldog's comments.
Despite this, the ASA upheld the complaints against Bulldog disagreeing that the words "up to" were sufficient indication to consumers that the top speed might not be possible on their lines for services up to 8 Mbps. They stated that the "up to" reference for services up to 2 Mbps was adequate, because the fall-off was smaller than for 8 Mbps services. The ASA asked Bulldog to "indicate prominently" in future advertising that top speeds varied significantly (with distance from the exchange).
Although this particular judgement applies to Bulldog, it is a clear signal to the entire broadband industry that the way services are advertised need to be clearer and as such this is going to benefit consumers.