Fibre data SIMs?

Once again the ASA have ruled that BT can sell its FTTC service as "Fibre optic". See ispreview article.

The basic argument is that it makes no difference to the end user, and is fibre optic most of the way to the end user.

They are, as ever, missing the point, so here are a few reminders for the ASA and those continuing to fight the ruling.
  • It is a simple matter of fact - we don't allow green toilet paper to be sold as pink toilet paper even though "it makes no difference". We don't allow battery hen's eggs to be sold as "free range". The adverts should not tell lies even if the end user could not tell them apart.
  • It is anti competitive as there are companies selling "fibre optic" Internet access and they find it harder to differentiate when BT adverts (and virgin adverts) are misleading the public like this.
  • There are lots of intangible differences which the "basic service" does not cover. Fibre is more able to be upgraded later; it is immune to RF interference; It is immune to nearby lightning strikes; it is immune to the typical contact corrosion from which copper can suffer. It is likely to be way more reliable.
  • Even "FTTC" is potentially misleading as some "FTTC cabinets" are microwave back-haul in rural areas. This is a great idea, and for normal working is equivalent to FTTC, but it is not "fibre optic" even by ASA rules!
  • It is not the same from the end user viewpoint. BT do have some "equivalent" 80/20 FTTC and FTTP services (i.e. 80Mb/s down and 20Mb/s up), but there is a huge practical difference. For FTTC that is "might be 80Mb/s down, depending on the line length, could be much lower, even as low as 5Mb/s", and also "the speed you get may get lower over time and could drop 25% without being considered a fault by BT". Yet for FTTP it is "80Mb/s down, 20Mb/s up and won't change". That is a difference an end user can see, and one they may seriously consider when choosing a product.
However, in light of the ASA ruling, which basically means that as long as "most of the way" it is fibre, we should, perhaps, sell "Fibre data SIMs". After all most of the Internet connect is fibre and the last bit is radio. [we do let you print any image you like on them :-)]


  1. I think you need to start selling "fibre" dialup connections...

    More sensibly, this ruling seems to make it ok to call pretty much any internet connection "fibre", including ADSL, since there's almost always fibre used somewhere.

    1. Not just ADSL: plain old 56k dialup will usually be going over fibre between the exchanges too. "Fibre dialup", anyone?

      To be fair, maybe it's just a pronunciation issue: anyone looking at BT's fault handling, marketing strategies etc would surely agree their services can honestly be marketed as "Fibber broadband"!

  2. I liked the idea of your new fibre sim offering so I've ordered one :)

  3. All this pretty much goes to show you can do ANYTHING you like as long as you spend enough on Lawyers.

    So why don't we all chop in and get a GREAT lawyer THEN do what we want?

  4. Well I've already got "fibre" broadband. ADSL is now known as FTTE right?

    When using old dial-up and accessing stuff outside the UK that data would have been carried over fibre for a high percentage of the distance. So actually all internet access in the UK has been "fibre" for the last 20+ years. Stick that in your broadband targets Brussels!

  5. I'm well outside London so I think it's reasonable to say I've got Fibre To The City.


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