UK advertising watchdog to review ‘fibre’ broadband services adverts

Jul 10th '17

Over the last year, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have announced major changes to the way broadband pricing should be advertised and published independent research into consumers’ understanding of broadband speed claims in ads.

Broadband providers have been sticking to the new standards on pricing, which states that the cost of line rental and broadband should be combined so consumers are not misled by the total monthly cost of their packages. The ASA believe it is now much easier for people to see how much they will pay, when shopping around for a new broadband package.

Following research on broadband speed, the Committees of Advertising Practice is currently considering how best to tighten standards on speed claims in ads with an announcement expected in the next few weeks.

They are also aware of evolving concerns about the advertising of ‘fibre’ broadband services.

The term ‘fibre’ is currently used in advertising to describe both part-fibre and full-fibre broadband services.

The UK Government’s recently published Digital Strategy made clear its commitment to invest in full-fibre broadband infrastructure, which is likely to make those services available to significantly more people, and also made clear its view that the term ‘fibre’ should only be used to describe full-fibre broadband services.  A recent debate in Parliament saw those MPs who participated also expressing their concerns about the use of the term ‘fibre’ to describe part-fibre broadband services.

In response to that context and those concerns, the ASA set up a scoping a review of how they interpret the Advertising Codes when judging the use of the term ‘fibre’ to describe broadband services. As part of this review they have written to key stakeholders and received a range of responses from providers of part-fibre and full-fibre broadband services, consumer organisations and other regulators.

Having considered those submissions, it is the ASA view that further consumer insights would help inform their judgement of whether consumers are likely to be materially misled by the term ‘fibre’ when it is used in advertisements for part-fibre services.  They have therefore commissioned independent consumer research from Define Research and Insight Ltd to provide those insights.

This work will get underway immediately and the intention is to publish the research before the end of 2017.

Source: ASA

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