back to article BT's Ryan Reynolds helicopter Wi-Fi ads 'misleading', thunders ad watchdog

The UK Advertising Standards Authority has rapped BT on the knuckles for claiming its Smart Hub delivered "the UK's most powerful Wi‑Fi signal". Following a barrage of complaints from competitors and the general public, the watchdog ruled that the telco broke 12 ASA rules with its series of ads, featuring Deadpool star Ryan …

  1. Oliver Mayes

    So an advert that hasn't been show in months isn't allowed to be shown any more? Nice work there ASA, useful as ever.

    1. JetSetJim Silver badge

      They're still running radio ads that have Ryan running around a putative large house extolling the bigly-bars on his wifi signal.

      >The ASA ruled that this was OK despite admitting: "The device had been connected to a testing tool that generated network speeds faster than those that BT's own broadband network was capable of."

      that would no doubt be around 1.3mbps, then

    2. MyffyW Silver badge

      To be honest, whether it is WiFi or affairs of the heart, if you have to start boasting about how long it is, you're probably not very skilled in using it.

      Mind you I'd be pretty unhappy if my WiFi went down on me, whereas ...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you thought BT were lying now...

    Just wait for the adverts for BT's pointless "up to" copper carcass "ultrafast fibre" technology. BT seems to have become masters in deception, with the blessing of Ofcom/ASA.

    We need far more due diligence (technically) by MPs when drawing up contracts with BT, regards the technology BT are promoting. (I know I'm asking miracles here)

    MP's (in correspondence I've seen) all still seem to have this belief that BT "will do the right thing" for the UK, how can they be so naive? Talk about blinkered.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If you thought BT were lying now...

      I've seen no suggestion that G.Fast will be used for BDUK coverage. It's a technology for dense urban areas to compete with Virgin's headline speeds. I don't see how there's any relevance to government contracts.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Max power

    The maximum transmit power is 200 mW AFAIK. BT are claiming to provide illegal hardware.

    1. JetSetJim Silver badge

      Re: Max power

      My understanding is that they're using MIMO technology to boost the gain, not transmit power. Unfortunately this adds cost to the routers, which (I'd guess) Sky, Virgin et al. haven't been doing in the past, but may well be doing now.

    2. Pete 2 Silver badge

      Re: Max power - more spread, less security

      and a signal that "goes further" just makes your wifi more susceptible to hacking.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Max power

      That was the some of the basis of the complaint, however BT now have changed the advert to say its more powerful than the leading competitors routers. I understand that the ERP is what is used in the comparison as increasing the power output of the transmitter would indeed be illegal, so its all down to antenna design.

      What is annoying is that it took the ASA from July 2016 to now to publish the report, (though to be fair complainants got a confidential copy embargoed until today).

      Since the initial advertising campaign BT modems are now major router in my locality, and appear to utilise much more channel usage that the competition.

      Ofcom were approached re the power output, but they showed no interest, as they had no complaints of interference.

      AC for obvious reasons :)

  4. StripeyMiata

    I forgot it funny that Virgin Media complained

    As I find the Superhub's WiFi's performance falls off a cliff once you have 5 or more devices on it.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    BT Hub Wi-Fi has always been bad...

    Every BT Hub I've owned (from 3 - 6) has had appalling Wi-Fi, from shoddy device and connection management through to actual range. For some time now, I just use the BT Hub as a basic router with a single ethernet connection to an Apple Time Capsule that does the real Wi-Fi, and very well indeed.

    So every time BT talks about its 'best ever Wi-Fi' I think of it rather like Trump talking about his 'best ever policy'. How they're (both) allowed to get away with it, who knows.

  6. wolfetone Silver badge

    When will we get to the point that advertisements will be vetted first to make sure they're not misleading and then shown to the public?

    How many idiots saw that advert and joined BT based on the fact they could watch YouTube while dangling from a helicopter?

    1. malle-herbert Silver badge

      Re : that advertisements will be vetted first...

      If we did that, there would be no advertisements....

      1. theN8

        Re: Re : that advertisements will be vetted first...

        "If we did that, there would be no advertisements...."

        I'm ok with that!

    2. Vulch

      When I were an engineer working at a regional ITV station (back in the days when they actually existed) adverts did get vetted but the regulators only got to see the shooting script, not the finished product. This got us such items as the two apparently identical shower gel ads featuring the rear view of a young lady taking a shower outside a tent on the African Veldt. Turned out the difference was that in the first version run she twisted sideways enough to reveal a nipple, in the second version which got its first airing after the complaint was upheld she didn't. Both versions had been delivered to us at the same time...

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Baldrickk Silver badge

    Given the chance...

    I go with wires anyway.

    That leaves my phone as the sole Wi-Fi using device in the house.

    Annoyingly it gets network dropouts (Wi-Fi still connected, strong signal shown, but no internet access).

    Even more annoyingly, it's an issue with the phone, as the internet still works, and the problem is 'fixed' by disconnecting the wifi and connecting it again, but other Wi-Fi devices (when connected) don't suffer the same problem.

    1. spiny norman

      Re: Given the chance...

      I get dropouts even with the wired connection. It's not the BT Hub, I had the same problem with a Billion router, before the Infinity upgrade. A BT CS rep, after multiple circuits of "So your broadband is working." "Yes, now, but it drops at random times" said she would "refresh the system" from their end. I have no idea what she did, if anything, but it didn't drop out for about 3 weeks. Then it started again.

  8. Commswonk Silver badge

    At least BT is in "good" company...

    Helpfully, having ruled that it is OK to broadcast ads about technical capabilities based on tests made in laboratory-equivalent environments instead of the real world, the watchdog then dubbed BT's range claim as "fantastical and illustrative in nature"

    ...along with claims for car fuel consumption figures and CO2 and other emissions. Even the test software was a "cheat" of sorts.

    For myself I just found the advertisement extremely annoying, but that response is not unique to BT. I have no interest in how many 10s or 100s of metres yards BT's WiFi will go; what would be of much greater interest would be how many single brick (internal) walls can it (a HH3) penetrate so that Mrs Commswonk can use her iPad. (FWIW 1 or 2 is fine; but 3? Forget it.)

    I tried a wireless range extender but decided in the end that it was no help, with no unused mains socket in a suitable location.

    In the specific case of this particular advertisement I just treat it the same way as I regard all the others; "someone" wants my money and they will stretch the truth to breaking point in an attempt to get it.

    A plague on all their houses... as Shakespeare didn't quite say.

  9. Baldrickk Silver badge

    Public Wifi Access

    I was actually talking about this this morning. My colleagues BT hub kept falling over, needing reboting regularly.

    He is convinced it is because he lives outside a train station, and so gets many many short term connections as people's phones connect as they walk past...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Public Wifi Access

      If he lives outside a train station, then it's probably due to the rain and taxi fumes getting into the Hub.


      Re: Public Wifi Access

      Perhaps he could disable the SSID broadcast?

  10. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    40Mbps at 200 metres? Utter bollocks! Maybe inside a waveguide, or a vacuum or something.

    In my experience of several BT hubs, performance drops off as soon as it's plugged in. Apart from abysmal wifi performance, BT offer these exact same things as "business hub" to businesses. We once came across a business that had about 20 PCs, all connected through ethernet cables to a "BT business hub" and DNS performance was so bad, it was either timing out or taking >1000ms to respond when the office was busy. BT kept sending more hubs, charging them for site visits because they couldn't find anything wrong with the ADSL service, and then they called us in. It took us half an hour to identify the problem (the hub) and we replaced it with a draytek the next day. All problems solved instantly. What a piece of shit.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      >40Mbps at 200 metres? Utter bollocks!

      No, but I would like to know more about the test set up - there is a reason why mobile phone aerials are mounted 6m up and not a foot or two off the ground.

      But the unspoken 'hero' of all this is the WiFi chip in the unnamed tablet!

  11. Killhippie

    Maybe if they spent less money on using people like Ryan Reynolds and Jeremy Renner they wouldn't be in the position of trying to cap the pension deficit with that £14bn black hole that even their Wi-Fi cant escape from.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm not sure that even Hollywood stars can command £14Bn for a TV advert appearance.

  12. Paul 25

    Terrible hub

    We have a HH5, and when it works it's fine. But we've had multiple periods where the 5ghz network is completely useless after a few hours, 2.4ghz continues to work fine. Throughput drops to bang on 5mbps each time until it's turned of and on again. There's only one other 5ghz network in range. The BT forums are full of the same complaint but BT just blame anything other than their firmware.

    However the latest firmware seems to be working fine now so hopefully they've fixed it somehow.

  13. zaax

    If this is the case and my router does not provide 40mps at 200m its faulty.

  14. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    I like to believe that...

    I like to believe that nobody actually believes this shit anymore. But then I realise that as an IT Professional - I'm not the target market for this sort of crap am I?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who to blame?

    Everybody always seems to want to find somebody else's part of the system to blame for any problem.

    Almost all wifi hubs seem to be set with a default of channel 6, understandable, but asking for trouble when you don't even tell people it's worth changing.

    People here know they can do a scan with their phone or tablet and find a less cluttered channel.

    Some tablets have bad hardware too.

    There is professional test equipment but I sometimes wonder who uses it.

  16. adam payne Silver badge

    "It was "inaccurate" and "misleading" of the one-time state monopoly to claim that the Smart Hub provided a "stronger signal" than all its competitors, said the ASA, which received 61 complaints, including from rivals Virgin Media, Sky and TalkTalk."

    We didn't need you to tell us that we already knew it was a load of crap.

    "The ASA ruled that this was OK despite admitting: "The device had been connected to a testing tool that generated network speeds faster than those that BT's own broadband network was capable of."

    So if fact they used a test network that is faster than their own and they are still allowed to say that. Sorry but that is still inaccurate and misleading, I think the ASA needs to rethink that.

    1. Alien8n Silver badge

      Running a testing tool that generates traffic that's faster than their broadband is fine in my opinion, what you're now testing is the internal network, how many people can stream from your media server for example. That said, I'm stuck with VM for the next few years at least, no way of getting above 1Mb with anyone else due to the cabling around here being copper plated aluminium (installed just after BT went private so done as cheaply as possible)

  17. Tromos


    Personally, I prefer a Wi\Fi setup that propagates signal outwards rather than upwards.

  18. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    the ASA said it "measured TCP throughput of a 2.4GHz signal from a BT Smart Hub when connecting to a tablet up to a maximum distance of 500 metres (547 yards) on an outdoor test range... the results showed a mean throughput of 40.2Mbps at 200 metres (219 yards), which was a usable Wi‑Fi signal."

    Wow the ASA really know their shit, they must be busy if they do that rigorous an investigation into everything advertised on tv . And some of the claims are a lot more ambiguous

    How do they discern if one company's holiday really is more relaxing than anothers? can i have job there?

  19. inmypjs Silver badge

    Believe that vacuous drivel

    Did anyone?

    BT equipment has to comply with the same regulation as everyone else so it could never be the more powerful and only 'most' powerful along with many others.

    I always thought trying you claim your router WiFi was 'the best' was grasping at straws, ISP supplied hardware is always going cheap and likely crap because of it.

    If BT really wanted to attract customers they could try providing english speaking customer support.

  20. Snowy

    Nice range but...

    most people live in houses with walls not outside without walls where the "test" was done

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If BT have the money to waste on this kind of advert, they could perhaps use it to replace the antiquated copper network with fiber opti- oh, who are we kidding?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BT Helicopter babe

    I like the babe in the helicopter. She's got the sort of smile that makes my antennae respond.

  23. the-it-slayer

    Big load of tosh

    Every BT hub I've ever had managed to bork itself or at least get itself into a DSL reconnection loop because of a noisy line.

    Yeah, I can get good wi-fi but I can't fecking use it!

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