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are increasingly being provided with a choice; to rely on traditional broadband services delivered over outdated copper wires and cables, or to connect to a new generation of full fibre networks offering the vastly improved speeds and reliability essential to a modern-day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).

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Filed Under: faster broadband, fiber, truth in advertising, uk

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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Dec 2018 @ 6:32am

    I get it! -- OK

    I get it, Netflix.
    Turn every live action movie into an anime, and turn every anime into a live action flick.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Dec 2018 @ 6:39am

    the majority of the UK is hampered by having to use outdated copper cabling, installed by the Post Office or British Telecom or whatever the name of the company was. there has been absolutely no meaningful upgrade of broadband by what is now known as BT/Openreach, other than when new housing estates are being built. everywhere else is tied down to the old copper cabling with the exceptions of the areas supplied by the 3 companies in this article and the addition of Virgin. existing towns and villages certainly outside of London are never going to get true Fibre Broadband to the cabinet, let alone to the home because, as was done here in the USA, politicians backed down from forcing the speeds up because of backhanders to them and the info stating it would be too expensive for the company (BT/Openreach) to upgrade/supply it. as it is, the majority of the UK is stuck on piss poor speeds, usually no better than 30mbps downstream and around 5mbps upstream. until there is some responsibility taken by politicians, regardless of which party is in control and while those same politicians are able to get their 'little brown envelopes' nothing will change. add in that almost EVERY government is doing it's best to restrict access to the Internet as a whole to ordinary people, simply to hide what they and their 'friends' are up to in the shadows so it cant be reported and that control of the Internet is in the throws of being handed to the entertainment Industries, despite all the constant denials, and unless people are absolutely blind and stupid, the reason for keeping the internet speeds restricted is pretty friggin obvious!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      ECA (profile), 4 Dec 2018 @ 12:56pm

      Re: (what he said^^^)

      dont ya love the idea...
      that the regulations dont give anyone responsibility to monitor or do anything to make sure things get done..

      There is such a problem, and understanding..
      1. Who made the original installation..
      2. how many upgrades and changes over the years..
      3. how much of this upgrades have included the ability to repair and Upgrade again?

      If the original lines are out there from the 60's-70's they NEED to be replaced.
      If they were upgraded After, then there is a good chance they were installed in pipelines/sewers/underground..Those will need repair and are FAIRLY easy to update..
      Part of the problem is that would rather WAIT for the old lines to ROT, and get the most use out of them.
      Because..Making a line BOTH copper and fiber is NOT GOOD..

      Then there is a trick to consider.. Becoming an outlier..
      YOU create the Connecting to another area. Outlying from the many system.. the Big corp has to give you a Full Fiber cable.. AFTER your installation, you can run anything you wish.
      But it would be nice to know WHATS underground..and if it has been upgraded to WHAT..
      its a great idea to carry this out to the Outlying Commercial and industry area..They generally are willing to pay extra to get it..

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Dec 2018 @ 6:43am

    The link above is to a 2017 bit of news. There's now a European call for improvement - see ake-fibre-ads.html

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Dec 2018 @ 6:55am


      Was there a point to this link? Because all it is is an open letter by an industry group (mainly fiber and equipment suppliers, funnily enough), some background, and a note that the lawsuit discussed in this article is ongoing.

      And if we're being honest, FTTH council has been saying the same thing for years, so it might as well be a "2017 bit of news" for all the difference this particular open letter makes.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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