back to article European fibre lobby calls for end to fake fibre broadband ads

The UK's fibre industry wants European regulators, who meet in Brussels today, to get tougher on misleading broadband claims. Topping its complaints is "fake fibre" – the practice of calling broadband connections digital "fibre" when they contain plain old copper. "We are witnessing 'fake fibre' advertising practices in …

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  1. }{amis}{ Silver badge
    FAIL

    BS!!

    The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has permitted broadband companies to advertise "hybrid" broadband – which means it "may contain fibre" – as true "fibre broadband".

    Errr, correct me if i am wrong but doesn't that mean that by the ASA's reasoning any internet connection is "Fibre" as all backhaul is handled by fibre connections???

  2. 2+2=5 Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Duck! Pigs.

    Wow, an industry body arguing for truthful adverts.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Duck! Pigs.

      A very selective industry body. If you look at the membership, it is unsurprisingly made up mainly of hardware suppliers. There's a tiny handful of small operators, and no consumer advocates.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Duck! Pigs.

      Just because it fits their interests - evidently if you sell fibre cables and devices, install them, or sell the service, you are damaged by the other technologies....

  3. big_D Silver badge

    Meat

    I had a "laugh" last week, I bought Lidl vegetable nuggets for lunch, 41% vegetable, 41% poultry! Got job I'm not a vegetarian!

    1. Semtex451 Silver badge

      Re: Meat

      or another journalist

    2. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      Re: Meat

      What's the problem? They're nuggets which contain a large proportion of vegetables. Since 'nugget' (in this sense) by default describes a meat product you should expect meat unless the name includes words like 'vegetarian' or 'non-meat'. I'm not a vegetarian but my sister is a vegan and I can assure you she checks things like this.

    3. vir
      Coat

      Re: Meat

      I'd still say that those nuggets contain a higher proportion of fiber than the average internet connection.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Meat

      41% vegetable, 41% poultry

      And 18% coal, limestone or somesuch?

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: Meat

        they are probably CMOT dibbler nuggets so miscellaneous grease and crunchy bits. Probably best not to ask what the 18% is.

        1. Elmer Phud Silver badge

          Re: Meat

          'Possibly meat' would be the usual D'Blah explanation.

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Meat

        And 18% coal, limestone or somesuch?

        If on the pet food section that will be 18% Ash.

  4. Khaptain Silver badge

    1Gb Download - 400Mb upload

    If those copper cables can constantly supply 1Gb+ to your "home router", not just to as cabinet etc, then fine call it fibre, otherwise good job for someone trying to stop this nonsense.

    False advertising is no different to "fraud".... Fibre is fibre, copper is copper, 1Gb <> 20Mbs ( which is all I get, grrrrrrr)

  5. LDS Silver badge

    Italy already did it

    Italian comm regulator, AGCOM, established this Summer a rule to advertise different "broadband" technologies, both with a color and a monogram:

    Green/F - FTTH/FTTB (fibre only)

    Yellow/RF - FTTC fibre + copper (the latter in Italian "Rame", hence the R), or fibre + radio (including broadband ones like FWA, 4/5G, etc.)

    Red/R - ADSL and other copper only technologies, or radio ones.

    That was to avoid stupid marketing designations like "super fibre", "iper fibre", "ultra fibre", etc, often masking mixed copper/fibre technologies. In ads, only FTTH/FTTB technologies can be advertised as "fibre ones". Mixed ones must explicitly state that.

    Unluckily it's still experimental - hope telco won't be able to rollback the rule It's welcome the issue has been submitted to Brussels too, a EU-wide classification would be nice.

    Just, with UK exiting EU, why UK telcos are submitting the issue to EU??

    1. H in The Hague Silver badge

      Re: Italy already did it

      "Just, with UK exiting EU, why UK telcos are submitting the issue to EU??"

      Because the UK is still in the EU :)

      And rather a lot of industry bodies want to stay involved to avoid the need for new British regs and duplication of work. BSI for example:

      http://www.constructionmanagermagazine.com/news/bsi-will-stay-european-standards-groups/

      Unfortunately, this does lead to more bureaucracy, not less :(

      Interesting quote from the Construction Manager article:

      "Over the past 30 years, the identical adoption of European Standards by all members of CEN and CENELEC and the withdrawal of conflicting national standards has reduced the number of national standards across Europe from an estimated 160,000 to around 20,000 European Standards today."

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Italy already did it

        "Over the past 30 years, the identical adoption of European Standards by all members of CEN and CENELEC and the withdrawal of conflicting national standards has reduced the number of national standards across Europe from an estimated 160,000 to around 20,000 European Standards today."

        Here you go:

        https://xkcd.com/927/

      2. LDS Silver badge

        "Unfortunately, this does lead to more bureaucracy, not less :("

        If it avoids apartment towers to get fire and kill tens of people, maybe it won't that bad...

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: "Unfortunately, this does lead to more bureaucracy, not less :("

          "If it avoids apartment towers to get fire and kill tens of people, maybe it won't that bad..."

          At some point the rather dangerous UK ring main system will have to go (the plugs are OK, but rings are not and UK wiring rules allow for radial or ring layouts. The _only_ advantage of rings is to allow domestic contractors to cut corners on wiring and the number of breakers in the installation.)

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Italy already did it

      Yellow/RF - FTTC fibre + copper (the latter in Italian "Rame", hence the R), or fibre + radio (including broadband ones like FWA, 4/5G, etc.)

      I think this doesn't quite go far enough; I suggest there also needs to be a distinction between FTTC and FTTM services (ie. fixed and mobile 'fibre' services), something will become more important when the 5G bandwagon really gets rolling and the advertisers will be making the most of the headline speed figures.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        "I suggest there also needs to be a distinction between FTTC and FTTM"

        In the initial draft there was a distinction, radio technologies should have added a "W" for wireless, but there was negative feedback about having too many symbols and names, thus it was dropped.

        Anyway in ads it it involves delivering the connection on a radio link it must be specified explicitly, regardless of the speed.

        There was also a distinction between FTTH and FTTB, which was quite useless - as most "LAN" networks speed are on par with end-user fibre, even on copper.

        1. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: "I suggest there also needs to be a distinction between FTTC and FTTM"

          But if you mention the word "wireless" most people will just think of how they 'get the internet on their laptop'.

          I've had people tell me "I have wireless internet", meaning ADSL+802.11. The precise and technical language that we might use is nothing more than words to the average person.

  6. Semtex451 Silver badge
    WTF?

    So the ASA is admitting that it is alright to hoodwink un-savvy consumers, the very people they should be protecting. WTF?

    "All of the consumer research we have done in relation to broadband advertising in recent years suggests that consumer knowledge regarding broadband services is low. We recognise that this might be a barrier to consumers choosing the best deal for their needs, and we have therefore shared our research with Ofcom to consider as part of its on-going work on Helping consumers to engage in communications markets."

    Spoken like a true media luvvie

  7. SamX

    The lady from the Virgin Media Support argued with me for 5min when I wanted to switched to FTTH saying VM is also full fibre broadband. It is just fibre up to some nearby cabinet and copper inside.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Where to draw the line?

      It is just fibre up to some nearby cabinet and copper inside.

      Isn't that also true if it's fibre to your modem and GB ethernet from there to the PC? Or even when it's fibre to the PC and copper across the motherboard? It's never 100% fibre.

      At the end of the day, all the end user cares about is that they get the performance they were promised. That, not the medium used, is what should be in the ads.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: Where to draw the line?

        Here the line is the "terminal equipment" - although FTTB has been included in "fibre", which could be fair - as local Ethernet speeds are symmetric and on par, and only larger buildings or site usually have internal fibre networks.

        I think it is correct to explain what medium is used, because you'll know which improvement margin there is. Today they could deliver say 300/100 Mb on both fibre and VDSL, but you know the former can scale up to 1Gb and beyond, while the latter can't. Or that the former goes at full speed even several km away, while the latter degrades quickly, and you may not get the full advertised speed a few hundreds of meters away from the cabinet.

      2. Def Silver badge

        Re: Where to draw the line?

        Isn't that also true if it's fibre to your modem and GB ethernet from there to the PC? Or even when it's fibre to the PC and copper across the motherboard? It's never 100% fibre.

        It's not true if the last leg of the journey is over WiFi though.

        And I'm not paying a monthly charge to use the cabling inside my house. I can upgrade that whenever I like.

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge

          Re: Where to draw the line?

          you know that virgin can supply high speeds on their network right? we were quoted 10k for 1gb/1gb (no bearer quoted and the speed was flexible from 100mb up) in july on their network. In the end we went with talktalk business for 4k for 500mb on their 1gb bearer. Granted these are business SLA rates, I have no idea what residential options they have as im with xen at home.

          1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

            Re: Where to draw the line?

            Explanation for my downvote ...

            You're correct, but in context it is irrelevant. Anyone could (subject to factors like service areas etc) order a high speed connection from one of many providers - and it will arrive at your house/premises over a bit of glass. But these are mostly business products with a price tag to suit - by your own admission £10k (is that the install cost, or the per year recurring cost ? I assume the latter).

            I've made the comment a few times before when people said things like "I'm paying for 8M, I expect 8M" that they are not paying for 8M, they are paying for the poor man's option of whatever this poor man's option can deliver - and if they really want a service with guaranteed rates they can have one, if they are prepared to pay for it.

            In the context of this article, users are being hoodwinked - it's a deliberate marketing department lie to call FTTC "fibre", and as mentioned above, using the same logic then so it ADSL and even dial up.

            PS - part of my last two jobs has involved the procurement and management of such lines.

          2. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Where to draw the line?

            "you know that virgin can supply high speeds on their network right?"

            They can also supply fibre tails if you're willing to pay enough.

            Unfortunately, experience has shown that if they have to interconnect with BT, SLAs go out the window and it appears to be a deliberate Openreach policy in order to fuck over competitors.

  8. Shaha Alam

    its fair to say customers dont care if its fibre, copper or Peruvian cat gut.

    the issue is in the use of the "up to..." prefix they attach (in small print) to their connection speeds, and whether it in any way reflects what they can expect at 8pm when all the netflix streams start flowing.

  9. Oddlegs

    It's a start

    Maybe the ASA will tackle the terms 'up to' and 'unlimited' next which seem to take on a completely different meaning when applied to internet connections.

    1. #define INFINITY -1 Bronze badge

      Re: It's a start

      You might want to take a peek at this news-site, which will keep you up to speed:

      https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/05/18/broadband_speed_advertising_changes/

  10. happy but not clappy
    Devil

    The ASA are shills, not consumer protection folk

    As an experiment I once complained to them about the use of the term "pure" to describe adulterated products.

    They had a remarkably similar response to the above. That the ingredient in question, despite only being 5% of the product, was itself pure, so calling it "pure" was quite okay. Complaint rejected. Good night.

    So I guess "pure fibre" means, "fibre somewhere or other, maybe, nothing to see here".

    1. Yet Another Hierachial Anonynmous Coward

      Re: The ASA are shills, not consumer protection folk

      I would guess then "pure fibre" means it is to the latest specification, with less inpurities and dispersion, than say, 20 or 30 year old fibre, which would be "impure fibre".

      As an earlier commentard suggested, all internet connections are fibre then, 'cos that's what connects all the local exchanges back to telehouse and the like......

      I also had an interesting conversation with a virgin media sales bod about fibre - asking how it would be terminated into my house and what access they needed. When I pointed out the the router/modem they supplied had a coax cable connector on the back and not a fibre interface in sight it just went over their head. "It's fibre broadband" they kept telling me. No, It's docsis coax copper broadband I kept telling them to no avail.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: The ASA are shills, not consumer protection folk

        ironically cable broadband used to be the buzzword rather than ADSL. It can also supply the same speeds so it is just an image issue really.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: The ASA are shills, not consumer protection folk

      What do you expect from a TRADE ASSOCIATION that was formed to stave off government regulation?

      The only reason they exist is to pretend that all is well and the government don't need to pass real regulations or setup a proper regulatory body. Complaints should also go to your local trading standards office.

  11. Milton Silver badge

    Hardly the first time

    Hardly the first time that the regulators have been left looking at best pointlessly ridiculous, and at worst complicit in marketurds' lies.

    If it was somehow—by Wonderland reasoning, and the mutilation of meaning that one normally expects from lying politicians—okay for providers to claim "unlimited" speeds when they did, in fact, practise restriction and throttling, it's surely no surprise that they are now allowed to state that they provide fibre connections when, in fact, they simply do not. A connection's maximum speed is that of its slowest component—something even the dozy pillocks of regulators should be capable of understanding—and any rational rule of marketing based on purported speed should enforce that the slowest component is duly emphasised.

    "We cleanse, disinfect, filter and test your drinkable water supply (until the last three yards, when it runs through an open sewer to your taps)" wouldn't be allowed, would it?

    For some fool to say it's ok to lie because the punters don't care is positively imbecilic: the reason the providers are claiming that they offer full fibre is because customers do care about speed: if they didn't, this emphasis wouldn't exist. The very fact that the suppliers are being so dishonest is proof in itself that the punter does care. Certainly, the suppliers and their professional liars marketing departments think so.

    It would be refreshing to be at least slightly surprised by this crap, but if we weren't living in the Age of Stupid we'd certainly be in the Age of the F**king Liar.

    Pardon the tautology

    1. Yet Another Hierachial Anonynmous Coward

      Re: Hardly the first time

      Sadly, there seems to be a lot of complicit lying and duping of the public at the moment, particularly from a technology point of view. By marketing hype, vested interests and politicians.

      Just a few examples, I'm sure the list could be a lot longer.....

      Smart Meters - Not any more likely to save money than dumb meter. In fact, the cost of the meter will hardly pay for itself within its lifetime. Being rolled out primarily so that time-of-day billing can be introduced, thus moving peak consumption around and reducing the need for industry to invest in new power stations.

      Gas/Electricity tariffs - as complicated and confusing as possible to make comparisons difficult.

      Broadband - fibre/no-fibre, upto, unrestricted - well debated here on El Reg.

      Zero Pollution Electric Vehicles - no such things as zero pollution, unanswered questions about battery life and replacement cost, recycling, toxic chemicals, rare earth minerals, etc.

      Smart Cars - Hardly a utopian dream - plenty of obsfuscation of real issues, etc. Again, often well debated here on El Reg.

      DAB radio - again often debated here on El Reg, Again, not all that it has been promised to be. Increased energy consumption, recycling of old equipment....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hardly the first time

        "Smart Meters - Not any more likely to save money than dumb meter. In fact, the cost of the meter will hardly pay for itself within its lifetime. Being rolled out primarily so that time-of-day billing can be introduced, thus moving peak consumption around and reducing the need for industry to invest in new power stations."

        Dont forget the much parroted LIE that they are "At no extra cost to you"

        The truth is the cost has already been loaded onto our billing, and you can bet once the installation programme is over - there will be no downward adjustment to take the end of the project (and outlay) into account.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Hardly the first time

          >The truth is the cost has already been loaded onto our billing, and you can bet once the installation programme is over - there will be no downward adjustment to take the end of the project (and outlay) into account.

          I've been thinking about this - my utility is currently trying to get me to have a smart meter installed. I'm delaying until they can confirm the meter is at least a 3rd generation meter - I've worked in IT for a long time and so understand the difference between first, second and third generation products and thus why the first release of NT was 3.1, hence why I will sit out the first (now obsolete SMs) and second (current generation that will be found to be incompatible with the back office systems needed to deliver the full SM dream)...

          I suspect this 'windfall' will be shared with a 'small' amount being returned to the consumer, because it allows the politicians to claim smart meters have reduced bills just like they said they (SMs) would do...

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Hardly the first time

            "My utility is currently trying to get me to have a smart meter installed"

            So are mine.

            They don't think it's funny when I ask them how much they're willing to pay me to have it installed and how much they're willing to credit each month to keep it installed.

            Apparently I should be falling over myself wanting this new toy and willing to pay THEM for it.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Hardly the first time

        "Being rolled out primarily so that time-of-day billing can be introduced"

        It's worse than that. The "official" smart meters (vs the proprietary ones that were foisted on unwitting early adoptors) have cutoff relays in them.

        When things go pearshaped you'll be able to pay extra to NOT be load-shed in the rolling blackouts.

        And there WILL be rolling blackouts - lots of them, thanks to the government not investing enough in replacement+extra power generation., coupled with a massive upcoming increase in power demands due to the electric vehicle fleet incentives (a private mostly-electric vehicle fleet will more than double existing power demands) and the inevitable demise of gas/oil heating as the country is forced to decarbonise to meet requirements (matching these demands will more than double existing requirements too).

        If we really go for broke and put windmills/solar panels _everywhere_, "Renewables" can slightly outmatch ~2005 carbon-emitting coal/gas/oil-fired power generation.

        Those pesky nuke plants being argued about? We need about 40 of them, not 2 - and even if the undersea cables into mainland europe had enough carrying capacity (they don't), France doesn't (and won't) have enough generating capacity to make up our shortfall.

        There's a perfect storm coming. It'd be a good idea to invest in a battery wall and a decent diesel 2kW generator along with a good quantity of oil.

  12. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    It's the speed, not the method

    Just require all vendors to deliver the quoted speed over a minimum distance. How it's done really doesn't matter.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: It's the speed, not the method

      "Just require all vendors to deliver the quoted speed over a minimum distance. "

      Uh yeah. No problem. And the contention ratio back to the exchange?

      Or the contention ration ratio from the exchange back to the ISP?

  13. Huw D

    Meat?

    Curry with Meat 10p

    Curry with Named Meat 15p...

    1. defiler Silver badge

      Re: Meat?

      Sir, I believe you have curry for 10p. Where, perchance, may I sign up to this deal?

      1. Scunner

        Re: Meat?

        When, not where. He was commenting from 1973.

  14. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Cogito ergo sum?

    If you think you have a full-fibre connection, you probably don't

    I'm pretty sure I do have FTTP. Otherwise what were the openreach guys doing running a special new cable into the new router thingy on the bedroom wall, which then gave me 300Mbps down? And what were all those coils of new something that were hanging off the local telegraph poles? Do you mean it's just a new bit of copper?

    1. The_Idiot

      Re: Cogito ergo sum?

      I'm pretty sure (read: absolutely totally sure, 'cos I watched them run the fibre down the corridor). But then, I'm in Canada, and in a condo tower that has a provider with fibre to the apartment as an option (as well as other providers serving the tower who offer cable and other technologies). I would suggest a qualification, whether geographic or otherwise, to the hook line might be in order :-). I'll try to be nice and not mention my symetric, uncapped service - or the cost. Or, um, rather the 'lack' of significant cost :-))). Oh, alright. 250Mbps for $50 a month. I could have 1Gbps if I felt like shelling a whole $100 a month...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Or, um, rather the 'lack' of significant cost :-)))"

        $100 for 1Gb? Quite pricey, even in Canadian dollars, in other parts of the world you can have it at half the price, or even less.

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