/ 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?


This comment was removed at the request of the user

This comment was removed at the request of the user

This comment was removed at the request of the user

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.

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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/

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This comment was removed at the request of the user

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.

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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.

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