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Fibre Broadband Advertising Probe Launched Into Copper ‘Last Mile’ Connections

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Watchdog probe on broadband services being adbvertised as ‘fibre’, when it utilises copper connections

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has announced it will conduct a review into the advertising of ‘fibre’ broadband services.

It follows concerns that ISPs should not be advertising ‘fibre’ connections when in reality for most people in the UK, the ‘last mile’ connection (i.e. from the green street cabinet or DSLAM) to their homes or premises is via a slow copper connection.

The probe shows how far the UK broadband scene has come in recent years as demand now centres on ISPs to provide a full fibre to the premise (FTTP) connection.splayfoil road fibre cabinet

Fibre Review

The ASA said it was pleased that ISPs were now sticking to its new standards on broadband advertising, including pricing which states that the cost of line rental and broadband should be combined so consumers are not misled by the total monthly cost of their packages.

And now it is concentrating on how best to tighten standards on speed claims in adverts.

“We are also aware of evolving concerns about the advertising of ‘fibre’ broadband services,” said the ASA. “The term ‘fibre’ is currently used in advertising to describe both part-fibre and full-fibre broadband services.”

The watchdog cited the Digital Strategy document from the Government which has called on communication providers to investment in full-fibre broadband infrastructure (i.e FTTP), and said that the term ‘fibre’ should only be used to describe full-fibre broadband services.

A recent debate in Parliament saw MPs such as Matt Warman MP (Conservative) express concern  about the use of the term ‘fibre’ to describe part-fibre broadband services.

“In response to that context and those concerns, we are now scoping a review of how we interpret the Advertising Codes when judging the use of the term ‘fibre’ to describe broadband services,” said the ASA. “In particular, we will be considering whether the use of that term is likely to cause people to be materially misled. Our work has already begun and we will provide an update with more information by the summer.”

FTTP Debate

At the moment, the majority of the UK is connected via a FTTC (fibre to the cabinet) connection.

This typically sees the fibre connection routed from the regional fibre hub telephone exchange into a local green street cabinet (DSLAM) commonly found on most British streets.

However this FTTC solution usually relies on a copper cable connection (via telephone pole or undergound) from the DSLAM to the customer’s home or premises, the so called ‘last mile’.

It is perhaps a sign of how far the UK has come with its broadband deployment that calls for a full FTTP solution are now being made.

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