Internet Speed: Superfast and 4G claims

Mar 7th '19

The term “superfast” is commonly used in relation to new technologies such as fibre-optic broadband to distinguish services from speeds previously achieved by ADSL. Ofcom currently defines ‘superfast’ as technologies capable of providing speeds equal to or greater than 30 Mbit/s.


Advertisers should ensure that any references to superfast do not exaggerate the capabilities of the network. An ad for Sky which stated “superfast in the kitchen” was not upheld because the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) considered that consumers would understand the claim “superfast” in general terms to mean speeds which were faster than ADSL (‘standard’) broadband, which was the case with this service. The ASA also considered that consumers would appreciate that while they could expect to receive superfast speeds at the router, Wi-Fi speeds on their devices could not be guaranteed and would generally reduce the further they were from the router. Based on this they considered that consumers would understand from the claim “superfast in the kitchen” that Sky offered a broadband service which provided superfast speeds and that while they might be able to receive such speeds in their kitchen, those speeds would be dependent on how far the kitchen was from the router (Sky UK Ltd, 06 March 2019).


There is currently no fixed definition of “superfast” in relation to mobile network speeds. Advertisers have previously used the term in reference to the comparative increase in speeds of 4G versus the older 3G technology. However the ASA has ruled that without qualification, using the claim ‘Superfast mobile broadband’ could mislead consumers who would understand that the “superfast” definition that applied to fixed line broadband could also apply to 4G (when the speeds were in fact significantly slower). Notably, the ASA ruled that the same claim in a TV ad was acceptable, as the average speeds were clearly stated in on-screen text (Everything Everywhere Ltd, 31 July 2013).


While there are no specific speeds required for 4G, advertisers should be wary of suggesting that slower networks have comparable speeds. For example, the ASA ruled that the term “3.9G” misleadingly implied that a network had speeds very close to that of 4G (Hutchison 3G UK Ltd, 22 January 2014).


Source: Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP)


See: Telecommunications: Overview


Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the ASA. CAP’s AdviceOnline entries provide guidance on interpreting the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing.


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