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.