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Sky’s ‘fastest broadband claim’ ad banned

London, UK, Tuesday, 22 March, 2016

Following the Advertising Standards Authority announcement that it intended to raise concerns with broadband providers over the way that broadband pricing was presented to consumers, they have now stepped in and banned Sky’s ‘fastest broadband’ ad.

In January, Advertising Standards Authority Chief Executive, Guy Parker argued that it was “essential we (the ASA) make sure people aren’t misled by pricing claims in broadband ads.  That obviously wouldn’t be good for them, but nor would it benefit broadband providers, because advertising works better when it’s trusted.”

Sky’s advertisement claimed to offer the fastest broadband speeds in the UK at peak time and used Ofcom research, which was limited in fact to fixed-line performance and not inclusive of internet usage over WiFi to support the claim.

The advert was challenged by BT and the complaint was upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority, who argued that,

“Because the ad did not make clear that the ‘fastest peak-time speeds’ claim related to fixed-line broadband performance only, the claim made was misleading. Consumers were likely to interpret ‘fastest peak-time speeds’ to man speeds they would receive in the home environment, including when they were suing their devices wirelessly”.

Statements about reliability, pricing and broadband speeds made by broadband providers through adverts can be less than clear for consumers and it can be difficult to identify which option offers the best or most competitive deal so this intervention by the ASA is a welcome one.

 What is fixed-line broadband, what is wireless and what was wrong with Sky’s claim?

The problem with Sky’s claim boils down to the fact that we as consumers connect to the internet on a variety of devices wirelessly (for example via your mobile phone or tablet) and these are not connected through a fixed-line and therefore Sky’s claims might well mislead us.

Fixed-line or ‘wired’ broadband - refers to a physical connection. For example, a wireless router will be connected to the internet via a fixed-line telephone socket.  This will then be used to connect other devices to the internet wirelessly. Fixed-line or ‘wired’ broadband tends to be a much more stable connection.

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