CityFibre Wins Court Approval in ‘Fake Fibre’Fight

Cybercrime and Fraud Court. CityFibre fake fibre justice scales and gavel

CityFibre has welcomed a ruling by the High Court that will enable progress in its fight against ‘fake fibre’.

CityFibre has been granted permission by the High Court to proceed with its judicial review of the Advertising Standards Authority’s (ASA) ruling regarding the use of ‘fibre’ in broadband advertising.

In November 2017, the ASA confirmed that it would allow broadband advertisers to continue to label copper-based networks as ‘full-fibre,’ a decision CityFibre thought was grossly misleading to the general public. As it stands under the ASA’s current rules, internet service providers are not required to distinguish between full and part-fibre services in their broadband adverts – despite the very different levels of connectivity they provide.

Citing research, the ASA asserted that the term fibre is not one of the priorities identified by consumers when choosing a broadband package and that it is not a key differentiator. It also said that the word fibre was not a trigger for consumers taking further action. It finished by saying that: “Our review has led us to conclude that the word ‘fibre’ is unlikely to mislead consumers as it is currently used in the advertising of part-fibre broadband services.”

CityFibre argued this belief saying that the labelling of copper-based networks as full-fibre and the indiscriminate use of the terminology was misleading and prevented customers from making informed decisions. Simply put, due to this ruling by the ASA, consumers could be fooled into purchasing pseudo full-fibre and then be left dissatisfied when it failed to deliver on its promised performance.

At the hearing, the company’s representatives argued that there were serious limitations in the methodology the ASA used in research it says justifies its decision. Furthermore, they argued that the findings the ASA presented actually supported the view that the use of ‘fibre’ was misleading for consumers.

Greg Mesch, Founder and CEO at CityFibre, said:

“The High Court is seeing sense where the ASA failed to: this is the right decision for consumers and our economy. CityFibre challenged the ASA’s decision because consumers must not be misled into thinking they can get full-fibre benefits on a copper broadband network – they can’t: copper is dead.”

“It is now time to sort out these advertising rules once and for all, and for the Government and industry to get behind the nationwide broadband targets set by the Chancellor. Companies are investing billions because of the transformative connectivity full fibre brings; the Court has a one-off chance to step in and make a difference for consumers before the mis-selling of broadband becomes the next PPI-style scandal.”


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