Vodafone told off by ASA for its Gigafast website
We could go on about how with Gigabit full fibre services that present to customers via a Gigabit Ethernet port on their router that the best TCP/IP speeds will be 940 Mbps but that is not what the latest ASA ruling is about.
The latest ASA ruling has looked at the Vodafone Gigafast website after Virgin Media complained the use of the phrase Gigafast broadband implied that the entire service was capable of delivering speeds of 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps).
However, another statement on the same page read “Great broadband doesn’t have to cost the earth - enjoy Vodafone Gigafast Broadband speeds for as little as £23 a month”. Throughout the page the price claim “from £23”, and variations thereof, was stated. We considered that the repetition of the £23 claim, unmoored from reference to a specific package, created the impression that a service that could achieve speeds of 1Gbps was available for £23, when in fact only the average 100Mbps package could be purchased for £23, while the average 900Mbps package cost £48 a month. We also considered that the later parts of the page did not make it sufficiently clear that the “from £23” claim did not refer to the 900Mbps package, but to the slower 100Mbps service.
Although we considered that the website made clear that Vodafone Gigafast referred to a range of packages which were not all capable of providing 1Gbps, because it implied that consumers could get a service that offered speeds of 1Gbps for £23 per month, when that was not the case, we concluded that it was likely to mislead.
The ASA has upheld the complaint because the wording meant people might consider that a Gigabit package was available to some for £23 per month. The Vodafone website has updated and now says 'Our packages start at £28 per month for new customers purchasing Gigafast Broadband 100' which satisfies the clarity requirement.
Looking at the wider picture no doubt people will start to wonder about monikers such as superfast and ultrafast and in general these are used differently to the Gigafast label, since the general label definition used in marketing is a baseline speed rather than the top speed. There are exceptions of course, the people buying something labelled superfast but not able to get superfast speeds, but this is something that the Ofcom broadband speeds code of practice is meant to handle i.e. giving the public a personal speed estimate before they commit to a service.
The Vodafone Gigafast service footprint that we know about is at 39,140 premises and given the relatively short time the service has been available we would usually suggest a 5% take-up but given the local promotional activity it is probably more likely to be in the 10 to 15% range i.e. around the 4,000 to 5,800 premises connected.
A small thought to end with, we have seen people proudly posting to social media speed test results claiming speeds of 1.1 to 1.2 Gbps onto social media from their Gigabit based connections. Unfortunately all this is telling us is that some speed testers are over reading by 20 to 25%.