The bromance is over as Virgin snitches on BT over misleading ads

The UK Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a complaint against three BT broadband ads lodged by supposed broadband buddy Virgin Media.

The ads were broadcast back in April, so it’s not clear what took the ASA so long to look into the matter, concluding somewhat redundantly that BT isn’t allowed to show those ads again. Since BT is already in the middle of a massive new advertising campaign this would appear to be a token sanction but at least it might set some kind of precedent, maybe.

The complaint itself was quite technical. In essence BT made some ads claiming its entry-level fibre speeds (52 Mbps) are faster than those of major competitors, and illustrated this visually via speedometer graphics that compared BT with Sky Fibre, which starts at 38 Mbps. Virgin Media’s problem was that it thought this created the impression BT was referring to the broader market rather than just one player.

“The ads must not appear again in the form complained about,” concluded the ASA investigation. “We told British Telecommunications plc to ensure that future ads made clear the basis of the comparison ‘fastest fibre speeds as standard’.”

Meanwhile BT was last seen cornering Virgin in a bar, saying “Dude, not cool. I thought we were, like, bros and then you totally landed me in the sh*t for, like, no reason at all. I mean what’s the point in laying down all those good vibes about Openreach if you’re gonna just, like, bring me down the first chance you get? You cut me deep bro, you cut me deep.”

Just to show there are no hard feelings BT then went off and commissioned a piece of research from Analysis Mason with the apparent aim of demonstrating to Ofcom that a third UK fibre infrastructure player apart from BT and Virgin is a non-starter, according to the FT.

Ofcom demanded BT open up its ducts and poles to anyone else who fancied a go at creating a fibre network earlier this year, so this is BT saying ‘that’s all well and good but where’s the business case?’ Ofcom wants more competition but BT is saying the numbers don’t add up.

Ofcom seems unmoved by the report, with a spokesperson stating “We know from discussions with major operators that there is significant interest in laying fibre using BT’s network. Progress is happening each week, and smaller operators are building fibre networks in cities across the UK. The future is fibre, and we expect BT to play its part in making that happen.”

In other words, nice try BT now get back in your box.

  • Cable Next-Gen Technologies & Strategies

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