'Mobile broadband is not the same standard as fixed'

Ad watchdog ticks off T-Mobile

Ad watchdog ticks off T-Mobile

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has taken issue with claims that mobile broadband is interchangeable with its fixed line 'home' equivalent.

The ASA's adjudication follows a complaint from a member of the public over a T-Mobile flyer - which stated "All the benefits of home broadband, on the move. No wires, no waiting, no worries" - mislead consumers into thinking mobile broadband would deliver the same speed and quality as traditional home broadband.

Broadband from A to Z

Click on the links below to find out more...

A is for ADSL
B is for BT
C is for Cable & Wireless
D is for Dial-up
E is for Education
F is for Fibre
G is for Goonhilly
H is for HSDPA
I is for In-flight
J is for Janet
K is for Kingston
L is for Landlines
M is for Murdoch
N is for Next generation
O is for Ofcom
P is for Power lines
Q is for Quad-play
R is for Remote working
S is for Satellite phones
T is for Trains
U is for Unbundling
V is for VoIP
W is for WiMax
X is for Xbox
Y is for YouTube
Z is for Zombies

T-Mobile, however, said the leaflet referred to the capacities of mobile broadband, not its speed and "maintained that they did not make any claim that implied a direct technical comparison to fixed-line broadband", according to the ASA.

The ASA, however, disagreed with T-Mobile.

"We understood that mobile broadband was unlikely to offer speeds comparable with those of a high speed fixed-line service and that, due to the technology's reliance on obtaining a signal from mobile telephone networks it could not guarantee the same continuity of service," the ad watchdog said in its adjudication.

"In particular, we were concerned that activities such as streaming, downloading and online gaming were unlikely to be available to mobile broadband users to the same standard as to fixed-line broadband users," it added.

Under the ASA's ruling, T-Mobile can't run the same ad in the future and must "avoid the implication that their mobile broadband service was of a comparable standard to fixed line broadband".

Virgin Media also fell foul of the ASA this week over claims in an advert that its 20Mbps fibre optic service is the UK's fastest, which attracted complaints from members of the public and from Sky.

The objections centred around whether the fastest claim could be substantiated in light of other providers offering up to 24Mbps services and whether the data used by Virgin to back up its claim was wide-ranging enough.

On the former point, Virgin said it measured throughputs - which it says is a truer indicator of real-world speed - rather than maximum theoretical download speeds. On the latter, it noted that the data used in the ad, from Epitiro, covered ISPs with 90 per cent market share of UK broadband between them and the ISP had several other sources, including benchmarks from Broadband Expert, that showed it to be the fastest.

The ASA however upheld the complaints, saying in its adjudication: "We considered, however, that readers would be used to definitions of broadband speed in terms of download speeds and were therefore likely to understand the claim "fastest" as an absolute claim that implied it was not possible to obtain a broadband connection in the UK that permitted a faster maximum download speed than Virgin's service."

It added: "Because we understood that it was possible in certain instances for some customers in optimum conditions to obtain a faster maximum broadband download speed than Virgin's 20Mb service, we concluded that such an absolute claim was misleading."

The ASA also concluded that, because the Epitiro did not cover all ISPs and did not "evaluate all broadband providers' customer bases in a sufficiently random and significant way", it couldn't be used for comparative speed claims.

The ads cannot appear in the their current forms.