The Advertising Standards Authority has cleared British cable company Virgin Media on all complaints made about its national campaign on “Truth, Lies and Broadband”. Virgin Media is continuing to promote its service as being delivered over fibre-optic cables, although the connection to the home is actually over a copper-coated steel co-axial cable. Its current campaign continues to claim that “only Virgin Media use fibre optic cable to deliver broadband”.
As previously reported by informitv, the advertising regulator launched an investigation last July into the Virgin Media campaign that claimed its service is “delivered via a fibre optic cable”. It followed by complaints, including one from satellite competitor BSkyB, that the claims were misleading.
Virgin Media successfully argued that its backbone network was a hybrid fibre co-axial network which used fibre-optic cables to within approximately 500 metres of the customer, with the final connection being made over copper-coated aluminium co-axial cables.
The Advertising Standards Authority, which does not appear to have relied upon any independent expert evidence beyond submissions from Virgin Media, concluded that “although co-axial cable was used to deliver cable broadband from the street box into the home, they considered that was a negligible proportion of the overall fibre-optic connection”. They said they were “unaware of any internet providers who offered fibre-optic cabling from the street into the home”.
Service providers in some countries, of course, do actually deliver fibre-optic connections directly to the home, but the distinction between extending fibre to the node and fibre to the premises is apparently lost on the advertising standards regulator.
In its assessment, the ASA concluded that because the co-axial section of the cable network was a small proportion of the overall fibre-optic connection, the claims “doesn’t use copper wire” and “delivered via a fibre optic cable” were unlikely to mislead.
The authority did not find Virgin Media in breach on the ten points that it investigated and determined that no further action was necessary.
In its current campaign, Virgin Media continues to promote its service as being delivered over fibre optic cable, saying: “Only Virgin Media use fibre optic cable to deliver broadband and it’s widely available across the UK.” It says its competitors “all use copper telephone wire” which it says has “been around for over a hundred years” and “wasn’t designed for the internet”.
Virgin Media is in the process of rolling out speeds of up to 50Mbps. “You’ll find watching YouTube is just like watching the telly” it says in its adverts. “You’ll download songs in seconds. And movies in minutes”.
The advert claims that its fibre optic broadband service is “carried by light in thin strands of pure glass”. It neglects to mention that most telecommunications providers also make extensive use of fibre-optics in their networks. It also fails to note that its service is actually delivered to the home over a standard co-axial cable rather like that from a television aerial.