Broadband News

CityFibre to take on Fake Fibre in legal challenge to ASA

CityFibre wants to ensure that the public is not confused by its GPON full fibre services when advertised alongside other GPON FTTP, FTTN Docsis, FTTC/VDSL and ADSL2+ services by getting a judicial review to force the ASA to not allow partial fibre services like FTTN and FTTC (fibre to the node and fibre to the cabinet) to be sold with the word fibre in the advertising.

The time has come to do away with ‘fake fibre’. The ASA’s short-sighted decision to allow yesterday’s copper-based infrastructure to masquerade as the future-proof full fibre networks of tomorrow is a clear failure in its duty. It has failed to ensure honest and truthful broadband advertising, it has failed to enable consumers to make informed choices and it has failed to support a national infrastructure project critical to our success in a digital age.

UK operators such as CityFibre are busy building the gigabit capable networks that UK consumers and businesses will need for the future, but without clear and transparent advertising to guide their purchasing decisions, millions of consumers risk being conned into staying on inferior copper-based broadband services. The first step to righting this consumer wrong is for the ASA to reverse its decision, which perpetuates the ‘fake fibre’ lie.

Greg Mesch, Chief Executive at CityFibre

The ASA ruling that said no changes were needed happened last November and essentially it meant that Virgin Media and others could continue to use fibre broadband terms in their advertising even though their services are not full fibre. One of the reasons given was that research suggested the public had grown used to the fibre being just another buzzword, just like the many evocative names given to services over the years and that consumers were not materially misled.

We can see the point of what CityFibre is trying to achieve, but with a decade of usage for the term already it will be another decade for all the public to get used to the change, why so long? Simply because we see people still asking how to get their Migration Authorisation Code (MAC) when it has not existed for some years.

An interesting point is going to arise soon once Vodafone who are partnered with CityFibre start to sell in areas with G.fast or more likely DOCSIS cable services, since the competition is less about the technology and more about the performance at that time someone sits down to watch a streamed film, no matter what technology is used if providers neglect peak time capacity the public will not care at all whether its full fibre or partial fibre they will just want to watch their film. Even if the UK broadband scene does evolve into a Gigabit shouting match, Virgin Media can upgrade to sell Gigabit services in many of the cities where CityFibre is likely to be rolling out.

So while full fibre does present a step change in reliability and no more sync issues etc, it does not solve issues around the shared nature of consumer broadband and our love of not tripping over Ethernet cables around the home by prodigious use of Wi-Fi. Full fibre operators need to be very mindful of the Wi-Fi issue as that last few feet defines the consumer experience for millions.

Changes by Ofcom and the ASA that will force the showing of peak time broadband speeds in advertising are much more informative than the many technology descriptions that have evolved over the years.

Comments

Future-proofing is undoubtedly the main USP for fibre to the home - but as the article suggests how prominent is that in the customer's purchasing decision over speed and monthly cost? Even if successful I can see the campaigns shifting to other descriptors such as "super", "hyper" & "ultra" and promoting the connection speed (with the appropriate caveats).

  • Gadget
  • 9 months ago

Allowing BT and Virgin to get away with describing a hybrid service as Fibre for so long was a travesty, to the point where it's become a meaningless term.

This action should have happened a few years ago.

  • pjohn
  • 9 months ago

An advert has appeared for TVradius:

It's called TV Radius. It is a new "super" antenna that can pick up over-the-air TV signals no other antenna was able to pick up before. So you get over 100 channels completely free and legal.

Brits are replacing cable Tv with this new HDTV antenna.

  • Somerset
  • 9 months ago

@Somerset
What does a TV antenna have to do with this article?

  • baby_frogmella
  • 9 months ago

Users will ALWAYS be fooled by advertising.
The only thing that matters is the delivery of Internet to your device. That means the method of delivery to the house, the contention, quality of line, ISP reality of peak capacity before you even start on the local steps. Router quality, wire quality, house construction, size of house, noise of other equipment, including whether others are bitcoin mining nearby, clashed with neighbours wifi, age of device, number of devices using the connection, malware on the device ...
Restrictions on the use of the word fibre are a sticking plaster on a tumour

  • Fellwalker
  • 9 months ago

@bf - it's advertising on this website and looks like a scam.

https://www.tvradius.com/en/contact-us.html

  • Somerset
  • 9 months ago

Adverts are based on your browsing history, so I am pestered by Virgin Media business stuff currently because of what I was doing last week...

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 9 months ago

They'd just end up calling it fibre-hybrid, or deep-fibre or some such. I doubt it will make any difference. People just tend to vote with their pockets.

  • TheEulerID
  • 9 months ago

I just changed my parents’ ISP to Sky. I had to stop the sales rep on his third attempt and explain that what he insisted on calling ‘full fibre’, was in fact FTTC. He didn’t seem to understand what FTTP was, and did not believe a domestic property like mine could have 500Mbps up and down.

Sadly my parents can’t get Gigaclear.

  • JacktheMac
  • 9 months ago

I actually complained to the ASA about this very thing a couple of years ago, so good to see an FTTP ISP taking them to task over it, as its fraud plain and simple because people genuinely believe they have actual fibre being delivered to their home when they don't, why the moniker went to 'fibre' I don't know its just VDSL

  • LudaLuke
  • 9 months ago

I actually complained to the ASA about this very thing a couple of years ago, so good to see an FTTP ISP taking them to task over it, as its fraud plain and simple because people genuinely believe they have actual fibre being delivered to their home when they don't, why the moniker went to 'fibre' I don't know its just VDSL

  • LudaLuke
  • 9 months ago

Indeed people primarily care about price. I note even the news article about poor availability of SFBB on new builds has a complaint regarding being unable to get a deal when moving from ADSL to VDSL due to being under contract.

A news article illustrating how many new builds have no SFBB and a complaint is not being able to get discounted pricing when moving to it.

That's kinda the UK market in a nutshell. Well played Ofcom.

  • CarlThomas
  • 9 months ago

There is a question over whether the public believe fibre is delivered, e.g. you had ADSL2+ and have upgraded to fibre (VDSL2) but nothing has changed at your home...does the public genuinely believe that someone has sneeked into their home and replaced the old telephone line with a piece of fibre?

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 9 months ago

I wrote to ofcom and ASA about this 10 years ago, just got fobbed off.

  • doowles
  • 9 months ago

@Andrew A straw poll of some non techie friends showed that most thought that the fibre was either to the nearest telegraph pole or to the external box on their house. Only a minority realised the fibre stopped at the cabinet.

  • gerarda
  • 9 months ago

Why does it matter?

The only thing people care about is 'Price' 'Speed' 'Quality' it doesn't matter to the vast majority if it's delivered by a piece of string.

The only reason CityFibre are making the "FullFibre" claim is marketing advantage.

  • nervous
  • 9 months ago

Just a thought, as FTTC is well over 99% fibre why can't it reasonably be called Fibre Broadband?

  • nervous
  • 9 months ago

Just a thought, as ADSL is 95% over fibre why can't it reasonably be called fibre broadband?

  • CarlThomas
  • 9 months ago

Just to play Devils advocate for a second...

Who cares what physical media the service is provided over?

If I got a ubiquiti airfibre point to point 2GBit link to my house, would that be inferior to FTTP?

Is 330m BT FTTP equivalent to 1GB Hyperoptic?

If Virgin Media offer 1Gbit over DOCSIS3.1, is that worse than FTTP GPON at 330Mbit?

G.Fast to the pole outside your house delivering you 500m might well be functionally equivalent to FTTP for you.

  • rtho782
  • 9 months ago

I hope that CityFibre are successful. At the moment few people have FTTP so it is not surprising that most of the public are not aware of what it is and what the benefits are.

  • Michael_Chare
  • 9 months ago

If you go back to the original ASA adjudication many years back you will find that it was BT that objected to Virgin claiming Fibre broadband for their Co-ax delivery and losing the case. BT then 'levelled' the marketing field when FTTC arrived. The original adjudication was always wrong and until the ASA are prepared to admit they made a mistake they won't change the terms.

Only fibre to the customer demarcation point should be allowed to be described as fibre delivered Broadband carrying Ethernet, DOCSIS other. This would also discount Fibre to the building with copper/coax tails.

  • jumpmum
  • 9 months ago

The thing is the "fibre" qualifier is only quite shortlived anyway. The medium of delivery isn't really a definer of the service quality. In theory, with enough switches and routers, you could offer "ethernet to the home" with no fibre involved.

Every service ever so far from a 2400baud modem to 350m g.fast is "copper". Lumping them all together under that brand would be meaningless. In the same way, Hyperoptic will sell you a 50m "FTTB" product, but one day in the future we could be on terabit services, all "fibre". The label "fibre" is pretty meaningless.

  • rtho782
  • 9 months ago

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