Advertising watchdog to clamp down on exaggerated claims by broadband and mobile providers

Advertising watchdog to clamp down on exaggerated claims by broadband and mobile providers
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A series of new rules from the advertising watchdog will clamp down on exaggerated claims of speed and coverage by broadband and mobile providers.

The guidance note from the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI) outlines new requirements for the advertising of fibre, as well as the availability of a range of other services.

The note is an action resulting from the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce, chaired by Sean Canney, Minister of State for Community Development, Natural Resource and Digital Development.

The ASAI said the new rules will ensure that certain marketing terms "convey clear meanings that are not misleading to consumers".

Under the new rules, broadband and mobile operators will now have to make it clear what percentage of customers can actually access advertised top speeds.

"Maximum speeds, even when advertised at ‘up to’ speeds do not in all cases clearly alert consumers to the fact that speeds can and do vary," the advertising watchdog said.

In addition, operators will be required to make it clear that not all services are available in all geographic locations and that there may be limiting factors in some areas, and online coverage maps will be required to be updated quarterly.

ASAI is also moving to clamp down on exaggerated marketing of fibre broadband services. It now states that when a broadband service is not provided on a full-fibre network, adverts must contain a "prominent qualification" that the network is "part fibre".

The guidance note represents the completion of the first part of a two-part review of telecommunications advertising. The second part of the review will relate to the advertising of "unlimited" data and broadband use and when the term can be used.

Last week, the Irish Examiner reported that ASAI had received 20 complaints in 18 months from the public relating to the advertising of products as "unlimited" when they included caps.

The new rules are in effect from September 1.

According to Orla Twomey, chief executive of the ASAI, the guidelines will ensure that telecommunication marketing terms are not used incorrectly to mislead consumers.

“Consumers have a right to be confident that the telecommunications ads that they see or hear are accurate and truthful," she said.

“Marketing terms, by their design, are there to attract consumers to buy certain products and are an essential part of business development in the telecoms industry. However, there is the potential to mislead when marketing terms are used incorrectly."

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