The claim objects to the use of the term “fibre broadband” in the marketing and advertising of part-fibre FTTC broadband products, which include copper cable. The presence of copper significantly reduces the performance of FTTC products compared to FTTP which uses fibre-optic cables direct to the home.
In August 2019, the ASA for Ireland issued guidance that “fibre” should only describe full fibre networks and that “part-fibre” should be used to describe part-fibre networks. France and Italy have issued similar guidance.
Alistair Goulden, CMO and director, Swish Fibre (pictured), said, “When [providers] use the word fibre to describe copper-fibre FTTC networks, I say that you can’t call a vegan sandwich a vegan sandwich if it’s got 10 per cent or even just 1 per cent meat in it. Copper reliant FTTC networks cannot provide download speeds much above 80 Mbps and upload speeds of 20 Mbps. In contrast, full fibre’s 100 per cent fibre-optic cables have the capability to offer up to 10,000Mbps today and potentially even faster download and upload speeds in the future.”
There is increasing evidence that consumers struggle to differentiate between part-fibre broadband and full fibre broadband. Recent research by WIK Consult for CityFibre found that 52 per cent of respondents claimed to have a full fibre service, despite only 20 per cent of respondents living in areas where full fibre was available at that time.
Prior to filing its claim to the ASA, Swish Fibre released a series of local marketing and advertising campaigns using the term “fake fibre” to alert consumers to the performance differences of FTTC and FTTP broadband products. Swish Fibre received a complaint about its initial campaign from a provider who contacted the ASA to dispute Swish’s “fake fibre” phrasing.