BT Advert Pulled Over Bad Wi-Fi Science

Wi-Fi (c) marinini, Shuttersctock 2013

The advertisement implied that a smartphone could interfere with wireless networks

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned a TV advertisement by BT, on the grounds it could convince consumers that Wi-Fi devices such as smartphones and radios could interfere with the signal of a Wi-Fi router.

The offending ad featured images of several electronic gadgets, while the voiceover went on about the number of devices that can ” disrupt your wireless Internet”.

“We considered that the inclusion of images of mobile phones and radios implied that consumers who had those items in their homes may experience problems due to interference when we had not seen any evidence to that effect,” said a ruling from ASA.

Bad science

The advert claims that BT Home Hub router is great at handling Wi-Fi interference and network congestion.

BT Home Hub 3Although some devices which rely on the same radio spectrum, such as baby monitors and video surveillance equipment, can indeed disrupt Wi-Fi signal, ASA found the prominence of other home electronics in the ad “misleading”.

In its defence, BT said that the 2.4 GHz spectrum was heavily congested and susceptible to interference, which could lead to poor and unreliable performance, particularly in urban environments. However, after a consultation with Ofcom, ASA ruled that devices shown on the screen would not cause interference of the kind described.

Later, in a statement to the BBC, BT spokesperson admitted that the video didn’t focus on the devices that were proven to disrupt wireless networks. “We are reviewing our legal sign-off processes to ensure that creative visuals accurately reflect our substantiation in future TV ads,” said the statement.

The company will have to rework the ad before airing it.

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