Vodafone Told Off For Femtocell Ad Claims

sure signal femtocell

The advertising regulator has rapped Vodafone over the knuckles concerning an advert claim about its Sure Signal femtocell

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has reprimanded mobile operator Vodafone over advert claims concerning its Sure Signal femtocell.

Vodafone was the first European operator to launch its Vodafone Access Gateway back in June last year. Then in January, Vodafone renamed the femtocell as Sure Signal and also dramatically cut the price of the device to just £50, from £160.

A Femtocell essentially looks like a home router, but is designed to give better indoor coverage of 3G mobile phone signals, which can be problematic to obtain when inside the office or home. Vodafone’s Sure Signal plugs straight into any home or office broadband line, with a download speed of at least 1Mbps.

Advertising Claims

However it seems that Vodafone’s adverts for the femtocell have managed to irk both its fellow operators, as well as some consumers. They took exception to a poster for Vodafone, which showed a man leaning out of a window in order to get reception on his mobile phone.

The ad stated “Only Vodafone can guarantee mobile signal in your home.”

Out of the seven complaints about the advert, the ASA upheld four, and said in its ruling that Vodafone did not make it clear enough that consumers needed a 1Mbps broadband connection to operate the service.

The ASA also said that Vodafone could not substantiate claims that the service would work for 99 percent of the population, because it was unclear whether such a high percentage of homes could receive high enough bandwidth speeds to run the femtocell service.

“We noted the VSS device would permit consumers to make a single voice call at a broadband speed of 64 Kbps. We understood Vodafone’s assertion that 64 Kbps was attainable by over 99 percent of the population in off-peak times, but noted that the survey sampled over 22,000 households and its conclusions did not necessarily indicate that over 99 percent of the entire UK population would have access to a broadband connection with a speed to allow a femtocell to operate.”

“We acknowledged that the availability and quality of an individual’s broadband connection, which were factors outside of Vodafones control, would affect a consumers ability to use the VSS device and considered, therefore, that Vodafone could not guarantee the service would be operational,” it said.

Vodafone has been instructed not to run the advert in its current form again.

Femtocell Push

Vodafone has been trying to convince the market that femtocells are a solution to poor 3G signals indoors. A survey of over 200 UK mobile users last October from wireless communications expert ADC revealed that 27.6 percent of people believed that their work had suffered due to poor mobile phone reception indoors.

But it seems that the industry is starting to get serious about pushing the technology. Informa Telecoms & Media said in February that tier-one operator commitment to femtocells had increased by 50 percent in the last 3 months.

The analyst house said that, despite femtocells having been around for a while now, the technology was experiencing the first signs of maturity with several tier-one operators deploying the technology using a variety of business models, in an effort to boost poor indoor mobile phone signals.

And earlier this year Alcatel-Lucent announced the availability of a “small cell” (femtocell) designed to address the needs of enterprise customers.