UK ISPs Demand Ad Watchdog Crack Down On 'Fake Fiber' Broadband
from the ill-communication dept
A few years back, we noted how a growing number of US broadband providers (particularly telcos) were trying to obscure their network upgrade failures. How? By only partially upgrading their networks then over-stating their customers actual access to real fiber broadband. AT&T, for example, likes to upgrade only a few developments in a city then breathlessly declare the entire city served with fiber. AT&T and other telcos often only upgrade part of the path to the users’ home (fiber to the local node, aka FTTN) instead of running fiber to the home.
It’s well in line with the problem we’ve seen in both the UK and US with ISP’s advertising “up to” broadband speeds (usually an indicator you won’t get the actual speed advertised. Needless to say, this collectively creates a lot of confusion among customers who often don’t know if fiber is actually available, or if they’re being sold either empty promises, or some inferior version of marginally upgraded DSL that isn’t fiber (usually made most obvious by pathetic upstream speeds).
In the United States regulators couldn’t care less about this. Both parties have long turned a blind eye to such creative marketing, in much the same way we’ve turned a blind eye to the fact our terrible broadband maps routinely over-state broadband availability over all. Apathy to this kind of creative marketing is also common in the UK, where the Advertising Standards Authority recently declared it was no big deal if a broadband provider wants to sell inferior broadband service (with speeds much slower than real fiber) as “fiber” broadband.
Three of the UK’s actual fiber providers have joined forces in a bid to try and force the ASA to retreat from the decision:
Three of the UK?s most pioneering providers? of ultrafast ?full fibre? (FTTP/H) broadband ? Gigaclear, Cityfibre and Hyperoptic ? have today called on the Advertising Standards Authority to stop rivals from using the term ?fibre? to advertise services delivered over slower copper wires…?Consumers are increasingly being provided with a choice; to rely on traditional broadband services delivered over outdated copper wires and cables, or to connect to a new generation of full fibre networks offering the vastly improved speeds and reliability essential to a modern-day home or business.”
This seems like semantics, but when you’re trying to upgrade a country to actual broadband… it matters. DSL lines remain highly distance constrained, and (again) tend to offer paltry upstream speeds. So when you’re trying to determine whether a city has been upgraded to real broadband — or substandard broadband — it’s kind of an important difference. Granted ISPs in both the UK and US that don’t want to meaningfully upgrade their networks (or let anybody else do so either) would prefer it if they could continue calling a Honda Civic a Bugatti for what should be obvious reasons.
It should be noted that the FCC’s 2015 net neutrality rules had some transparency requirements insisting that ISPs be entirely clear about what kind of connection they’re buying. Requirements that, with the rest of the rules, were stripped away by the FCC’s Ajit Pai in his quest for “internet freedom” (or whatever he’s calling it these days).