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Cable.co.uk investigation reveals two thirds 'misled' by fibre broadband advertising, experts compare situation to horse meat scandal

  • A Cable.co.uk investigation has found 'misleading' broadband advertising means a majority of customers do not properly understand what they are buying
  • Renowned European broadband expert compares situation to horse meat scandal
  • Advertising Standards Agency ruled in 2014 that the use of the term 'fibre optic' for only part-fibre networks was 'unlikely to mislead'

Thursday 21 April 2016: Research by Cable.co.uk has revealed that two thirds of fibre broadband customers on BT's Openreach network – which services around 80% of the UK's total broadband customer base – are unaware their so-called 'fibre' service arrives at their home through a standard copper telephone line.

Cable.co.uk surveyed 1,000 fibre broadband customers receiving their service from a provider operating on BT's Openreach network. Providers on Openreach include BT, TalkTalk, Sky and Plusnet (as well as many smaller providers) but not Virgin Media, which operates on its own fibre-coaxial (cable) network.

Virgin Media's network is also part-copper it uses a somewhat different technology that negates much of the drop in speed over distance.

Former senior manager at BT labels the current state of the Openreach network an 'interim solution' that has 'proven cheaper'

Head of cooperative of independent networks slams misleading advertising, says it's a major bugbear to those offering, and advertising true fibre networks

Recent French ruling outlawed use of the word 'fibre' in sales and marketing materials of French fibre-to-the-cabinet (copper to the premises) providers

Full story, survey data and detailed analysis available here

Commenting on Ofcom's findings, Dan Howdle, consumer telecoms expert at broadband comparison site Cable.co.uk, said:

"The situation is a fundamental threat to 'the vitality of our digital lives"

Notes to editors

If using our research and/or commentary we would deeply appreciate a link either to this page or to https://www.cable.co.uk

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What is Cable.co.uk?

Cable.co.uk is a broadband, TV and phone comparator, unique news source and consumer champion.

Dan Howdle has been plugged into the attitudes of UK broadband, TV and mobile customers for over two decades. Having spent 12 years at the coalface of consumer telecoms research, initiating and running projects both nationally and internationally on behalf of the biggest players in the industry. Dan is now Director of Communications and in-house consumer telecoms expert for Cable.co.uk.

An experienced broadcaster, commentator and writer who frequently appears on BBC TV and radio, ITV, Sky and in the national papers and their websites, Dan leads a team of journalists and communications folk who spend their days researching and reporting on problems faced by UK broadband, TV and mobile customers both on an individual and macro level.

Dan campaigns on many issues currently facing consumers of broadband, TV and mobile products in the UK. These include, but are not limited to: Rural broadband provision; mobile coverage; broadband, TV and mobile customer contract issues; broadband and mobile broadband speeds; switching and money-saving; infrastructural challenges; pricing, changes and structures; shifts in technology and the marketplace; telecoms regulation, policy and law; fines, adjudications and policy changes; mergers and closures of UK providers; annual financials and more.

Dan has advised Ofcom on issues surrounding service quality. He also administers and adjudicates the yearly Broadband Service Quality Awards and sits on the panel of judges for the Internet Service Providers Association annual awards.

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