Watchdog faces court case over ‘lax’ broadband fibre definition

Britain's advertising watchdog is being taken to the High Court over claims its lax definition of “fibre” broadband means customers are being hoodwinked into buying slow internet packages.
CityFibre, an Aim-listed ultra-fast broadband infrastructure builder, has filed a judicial review against the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
It is challenging an ASA ruling allowing use of the term “fibre” to describe services delivered over copper-based networks.
CityFibre argues the term should only apply to faster full fibre services. The ASA came under pressure from politicians and industry to review its definition of the term “fibre” last year, but ruled in November no change was required.
CityFibre’s lawyers will argue the ASA’s decision was “fundamentally flawed” and encourages internet service providers to “continue to mislead consumers”.
“You could hardly expect an automotive manufacturer to get away with advertising an ‘electric car’ when the most electric part of the car was its windows,” said Greg Mesch, chief executive of CityFibre. “The time has come to do away with ‘fake fibre’.”
Watchdog faces court case over ‘lax’ broadband fibre definition

CityFibre argues broadband that uses any stretch of copper wire should not be called 'fibre'

David Gee / Alamy Stock Photo
An ASA spokesman said the body would respond to the application for judicial review “in due course”.
In an earlier statement justifying its decision not to restrict the definition, the ASA said it had found the term was not a key differentiator for consumers and was seen as “one of many generic buzzwords”.
The judicial review bid comes as the Government seeks to upgrade the country’s aged broadband network. It has been putting pressure on BT’s Openreach subsidiary to accelerate the necessary upgrade work. Earlier this month Openreach increased the number of homes it plans to connect with more reliable and ultra-fast fibre-optics by 2020 by half, to three million.
London-based CityFibre is rolling out full fibre networks across more than 40 UK towns and cities, in direct competition to Openreach.
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