/* ----------------------------------------------- Comment out annoying Snap... ----------------------------------------------- */

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Life in the Slow Lane: ASA is wrong.

Ntl recently complained to the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about the ex-Bulldog adverts claiming 8Mbs broadband speed.

ASA ruled “We asked Bulldog to indicate prominently in future ads (for example in the body copy of non-broadcast ads) that top speeds varied significantly, in particular because of a user's distance from their local exchange.”

I have a real problem with this ruling because it is just plain wrong:
1. For RADSL services, bandwidth is directly proportional to line attenuation.
2. For ADSL2plus services, bandwidth is directly proportional to line signal to noise ratio.

These factors can be proportional to the distance from the exchange, but also can be due to poor quality cable and/or shielding, poor quality splicing or large “internal” exchange cabling which really are OpenReach problems, but they quite also be due to poor quality filters which the ISP are bundling with the offer or even poor quality internal extension wiring or interference in the home.

The only way to confirm the expected bandwidth is to perform a line test from home or from the exchange. OFCOM should step in and force the ISP industry in general to provide tools for the home user to perform a proper line test: in the absence of this, OpenReach should step up to the plate and make such testing tools generally available. A lot of home routers already provide attenuation and SNR information and it is a matter of educating the public.

In my opinion, it is better to tell truth: ie getting maximum speed is dependant upon several factors rather than telling another half-truth.

Ntl are perfectly within their right to complain about such blatant mis-selling. However, I’m sure their senior management are focussed upon more pressing issues. There was a report in the FT this week that the Private Equity buyers had pulled out of negotiations - quote - One adviser close to the consortium's discussions said: "It's a big price. A couple of months ago we were nowhere near $US34, and the business has got worse, not better."