/ Technology

Does more need to be done on broadband advertising?

People across the UK suffer from painfully slow and unreliable broadband. And there’s no wonder – the country’s infrastructure is terrifyingly out-dated. Our guest, Greg Mesch, explains more…

The UK is a service-based economy that runs on the internet, and quality, fast, future-proofed internet runs on full fibre. Only last month, the Chancellor, Phillip Hammond, committed to national full fibre coverage by 2033. The company I founded and run, CityFibre, is a major player in this vision.

But for it to become a reality, it is vital that consumers are not misled into thinking they already have a full fibre connection.

Today, 97% of connections use old copper cables to deliver broadband to homes and businesses; this includes the so-called ‘fibre’ services that many of us have today, where fibre is used in a small part of the network but the connection to our homes is still copper. So why is that a problem?

Copper cop-out

It is universally agreed that full fibre connections – where homes and businesses are directly connected via fibre-optic cables – are superior to copper and part-copper services. They are faster, more reliable and good value. As the rollout gathers pace, consumers increasingly have a choice to make.

However, current Advertising Standard Authority (ASA) rules still allow advertisers to call part-fibre part-copper products ‘fibre’. Earlier this year, DCMS called for these rules to change but, after reviewing the issue, the ASA concluded no changes were needed.

We strongly believe this was the wrong decision, made using flawed logic and research. So, we went to the High Court on 12 June to make our case for a judicial review. Encouragingly, the High Court saw sense where the ASA failed to, and our challenge can now proceed.

This is a missing piece of the advertising puzzle that must be addressed, so that consumers can make a choice, companies can differentiate better connectivity and our full fibre future can become a reality.

This is a guest contribution by Greg Mesch, Chief Executive of CityFibre. All views are Greg’s own and not necessarily those also shared by Which?.

What do you think? Do you have ‘fibre’ internet that’s still painfully slow?


Hello Greg CEO of City Fibre , I see Which has “gone commercial ” but I did say thats how they do things nowadays . Why do I say that well tell me what right have you to criticize all those country long lines of copper when as your company name implies you install fibre to CITIES not that farm/cottage miles up a country road with 10-20 span of O/H wiring ? How about you taking all the profit like others by going for high profit areas instead of country ones and leaving BT to get criticised for the 3-5 % left who have 2Mbps or less download speed . Where were you when fibre was put out to tender by HMG ? -like the others declined because there wasn’t enough profit . Are you applying to take over 100 % of the British network and install FTTP ?? of course not just the same as VM -“we cable your street” BUT not if its miles into the country and all the rest except firms like B4NR https://b4rn.org.uk/ now thats a company i admire . I have a suggestion all those companies except BT get together and pay for the installation of FTTP in all those locations – VM/SKY/ etc etc etc . You know that the media -Google – MIcrosoft- Amazon – etc want the public to pay for high speed apps which only FTTP will be able to facilitate and that means a big media build up to crticise BT who they want sold of ( the network ) to American interests but as I have pointed out ad infinitum even the USA doesnt provide or will FTTP . No Donald wants the farmers to get microwave radio to provide high speed broadband and many countries in South America use Satellite to a main-base then fibre to outlying relay stations then microwave . Will your company provide what ALL the public want ? if not dont expect BT shareholders to pay -remember the UK public voted for BT to be privatised , now it doesn’t suite –moving the goal posts springs to mind.

Care to say why you disagree with me -thumbs downer ? . If you think I am not telling the truth please let me know and if you are right I will ,of course apologise , I would like a technical discussion on this but if you dont put your case then I can only come to the conclusion its out of spite . Its all very well being idealistic and unrealistic but I have worked at the “sharp end ” and know intimately what is involved but if someone of “superior knowledge ” can extend my technical knowledge I am always willing to learn ? I posted what I posted so that somebody would reply with a rebuttal and make this convo into many posts that viewers can debate and post on , I am not asking for agreement but require practical-engineering-down to earth answers to a rebuttal .

To try to add some substance to the point Greg is ( I think ) really trying to make, I and other regulars have been talking about why big business USA wants the UK to have 100 % FTTP -paid for, of course, by BT shareholders, not those $multi -billion conglomerates and not by any other ISP who can sit back and reap the benefits (profits ) of BT payouts due to unbundling of the BT Network -but NOT VM of course who the government gave a “get out clause ” -IE- nobody can use their network . I give you the new US online speed-busting idea of ONLINE GAMING – guaranteed to get this country complaining to the hilt about slow lines. Now here is a reason to push this agenda https://blog.ashampoo.com/en/2018-06-05/using-a-high-end-pc-without-actually-owning-one-pc-streaming?utm_source=ashampoo&utm_medium=automail&utm_content=using-a-high-end-pc-without-actually-owning-one-pc-streaming&utm_campaign=blog

I’ll put that right duncan. I don’t liike anonymous thumb downers who don’t leave a supporting comment.

As you say, CityFibre seem to concentrate on….cities…..where the “low hanging fruit” is to be found. They are a wholesaler only, and partner Vodaphone for retail sales.

I find the attack on the ASA for permitting “fibre” to be used as a universal description quite trivial in the scheme of things. I think I would have been more impressed if a fibre provider addressed the issues of achieving high speed broadband across the whole of the country – by whatever means was appropriate. Something Which? have been campaigning for. Not sure why a convo that just, apparently, deals with major conurbations and businesses is of great topical interest. But I will prepare for a thumbs down for giving my opinion.

However I value input from commercial organisations, as from any other body, where it helps any consumer debate.

Thank you malcolm all I am asking for is rationality and debate of course I make mistakes I am human and not perfect but I expect some sort of reasonable reply . I am not against private companies gaining some publicity here (within reason ) but surely posting a convo in which it can stand at arms length and criticize is not my idea of democracy.

I cannot see any chance that the use of ‘fibre broadband’ to describe FTTC services being banned since the term has been in common usage for years. Had a challenge been made when the term was first used then I would have supported the challenge.

I would like to see companies like Hyperoptic, CityFibre and the entertainment companies that depend on fast internet connections contributing to the cost of providing us all with proper broadband services. I’m lucky to have FTTP despite living in a small housing development surrounded by fields and do appreciate the reliability of the service.

Graham Long says:
23 June 2018

Full marks to CityFibre for taking the ASA to court over their incompetence to demostrate the principles they espouse: “Legal, Decent, Honest and Truthful” are the stadards claimed by David Currie, Chairman of the ASA but the ASA abandons honesty and truthfulness when it comes to broadband advertising. Two reviews conducted by the ASA when the likes of BT and other copper ISP’s lobbied them have left the situation unchanged. The government like the current confusion because it helps convince the unwitting public that the £1.7B spent with BT by BDUK on FTTC has been a good investment. In France all ISP’s are required to state how they get broadband into your home so the consumer can decide what is best for him/her. The days of “Fake Fibre” must come to an end. In 2013 a survey was conducted which demonstrates just how misled the public are on this issue: https://www.cable.co.uk/about/media-centre/releases/cable-investigation-reveals-two-thirds-misled-by-fibre-broadband-advertising-experts-compare-situation-to-horse-meat-scandal/

You do know who the biggest shareholder in France Telecom/Orange is Graham ? –the State of France -as of December 2015 through Agence des participations de l,Etat and Banque PUBLIQUE d,invetissement . Also you know , as I posted above that like South America France makes extensive use of Satellite broadband using the same methods as SA namely Satellite to large ground station fibre to outlying relay stations THEN microwave -a la Donald in the USA so to make out its all a matter of fibre is far from reality when France uses fibre only to a relay station and YES they STILL use copper in France . What Greg is saying ( in a round about way ) the whole of the UK should be fibre -FTTP , not even Norway has that . Name me a country with 100 % FTTP via a telephone exchange NOT a microwave relay station ? I still haven’t got a reply to my point when HMG offered that sum of money -NONE of the other telephone companies wanted to know because there was not a big profit in it and their shareholders knocked it back but expect BT shareholders to pay for it ??

As malcolm says City Fibre has linked up with Vodaphone and Greg has commented on BT Group as being -Quote – being slightly selfish and delaying roll out of 5 G –eh !!! . Okay I will quote from my LOCAL MP about its partner Vodaphone who when asked to provide good FOUR G service in villages surrounding me said -quote- they admit (Vodaphone ) there is an ongoing problem in xxx+ xxx villages because of LOW RETURN in INVESTMENT –what do Vodaphone want ??? they want free sighting of Small-Cell Technology-IE on village infrastructure PLUS they want the villagers to PAY for it . So much for the moral high ground here and “indignity ” about BT and YES Greg I have the FULL statement from my MP archived on my PC can even give you his name + address to back up what I said . I actually contacted him and -Greg are you listening ? he wants to talk to you about his voters not having good FOUR G from Vodaphone . Thats reality Greg . Just checked he spoke in Parliament to a Vodaphone Rep so its straight from the horses mouth.

Patrick Taylor says:
25 June 2018

The point of the article surely is misdescription and the ASA’s connivance in the matter. The ASA is something that needs a serious article by WHich? onits function, who pays for it, and is it really doing a good job.

The fact it cannot adminster anything but rebukes etc. means it is a genuine paper tiger until it can get a Trading Standards office to be interested.

This article highlights how the interest of big advertisers have been allowed to triumph over truth in advertising.

Yes just spoke to two Openreach engineers (UG ) working in a cable manhole
30 meters from me repairing a 100PR cable -Me- do you know City Fibre –Openreach engineer -oh yes we know them — Me-any round here ——Openreach engineer-no they dont do rural, ME-then where are they working then –Openreach engineer – in A*****n CITY about 60 miles up the road. Me-figures !

Jennifer O'Donnell says:
26 July 2018

I live in a three-year-old retirement village just down the road from a large number of MOD offices, which originally led me to believe that broadband reception would be good despite this being a relatively rural area. Not so. My life ticks away as I wait and attempted connections get frequently timed out.

I am not tech savvy. Perhaps there is something I don’t understand.

Jennifer the MOD are in a privileged position of having in many cases their OWN street cabinet or other arrangements so that no interference from normal public network cable can cause them any problems . They have their own underground cabling which includes “high speed broadband ” ( IE- VERY high speed ) This is for National Security and positions of where the network is is strictly controlled . Your village will come off of another street cabinet not the MOD one which probably isnt even FTTC -fibre to the cabinet , but even if it was if the new village is isolated and distant from the cabinet then you would need FTTP -fibre to the premises to get very high speeds . Could you give me roughly in what area you live ? I dont want your address only the area so that I can check out the average speeds there.