Broadband advertising review- as simple as A, B or C?

Posted on Feb 09 2011 by Darren Farnden | Comments Off on Broadband advertising review- as simple as A, B or C?

There has been an ongoing industry debate over controversial advertising practices regarding broadband for quite some time. ISPs have been criticised repeatedly for advertising broadband quoting maximum achievable headline speeds and for claiming that packages include ‘unlimited’ bandwidth when they are actually subject to Fair Usage Policies (FUPs) and/or traffic shaping. Some argue that advertising broadband in this way causes confusion among customers, often setting their expectations unrealistically high. Therefore last week the ASA (Advertising Standards Agency), BCAP (British Code of Advertising Practice) and CAP (Committee of Advertising Practice) outlined their latest proposals for tackling the issue.

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

Commenting on the review the ASA state: “In 2010 the ASA asked the bodies that write the Advertising Codes (CAP and BCAP) to review broadband speed claims in advertisements as part of a wider look at advertising in the telecommunications sector.

CAP and BCAP are now consulting on their proposals for new advertising guidance on the use of “Up to” broadband speed and “Unlimited” usage claims in telecommunications advertising.

The key issues are whether consumers can actually achieve advertised speeds and “unlimited” usage of telecommunications services as claimed. The objective is to produce guidance for the industry to aid their interpretation of the Misleading Advertising sections of the CAP and BCAP Codes.”

While we agree there needs to be clarity and accuracy around broadband services we have significant concerns over the review’s proposals which are currently based on the following options:

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That was the year that was!

Posted on Dec 22 2010 by Elsa Chen | Comments Off on That was the year that was!

What an eventful year 2010 has proven to be! We saw a new coalition Government take power; we lost yet another World Cup; we saw a number of terrible natural disasters including the Haiti earthquake and the Pakistan floods; volcanic ash grounded our planes; students rioted over tuition fees; the iPhone 4 and iPad were launched; and the winter Olympics were held in Vancouver. But enough about all that – what happened in the Internet industry? Our recap of 2010 highlights some of the most topical issues that affected the industry this year.

Elsa Chen, General Manager

Elsa Chen, General Manager

The most controversial of them all
Let’s start with arguably the most controversial story of the year – the Digital Economy Bill. We started covering this highly controversial topic back in 2009 but during 2010 we saw this Bill become an Act (DEA) as it was hastily pushed through the pre-election wash-up, much to the dismay of its opponents, which include Entanet. However, there is some good news. A judicial review called for by BT and TalkTalk was granted in November and is expected to be held in April 2011.

Unsurprisingly, the DEA’s supporters are opposing the review and continue to insist that it is satisfactory. Just last week news broke that FAST (Federation Against Software Theft) has organised an event at the House of Commons on 12th January 2011 to ‘discuss’ the topics surrounding the DEA well before the full hearing is expected.

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Is the devil in the detail?

Posted on Dec 14 2010 by Darren Farnden | Comments Off on Is the devil in the detail?

Last week the Department for Business Innovation and Skills published a 61 page plan titled “Britain’s Superfast Broadband Future” as part of its aim for the UK to have “the best broadband network in Europe by 2015”.

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

For quite some time now we and others in the industry have discussed the Government’s plans for rolling out superfast broadband, often focusing on key aspects like the 2Mbps USC and using the BBC license fee to fund this, opening up the fibre ducts and reaching the most rural communities via the use of satellite and mobile services. When discussing these highly topical issues the industry has continuously called for more detail explaining exactly how these plans would be achieved and funded. And so we had high expectations of the new publication.

So what does the report reveal?

Having read the report our conclusion is ‘don’t hold your breath’. Don’t get me wrong, we think it’s laudable that the Government recognises the need to deliver a good level of access to communities that fall outside of the more densely populated areas that ‘the market’ first generally serves. It’s just that, well, we can’t help but feel its grand plan will become logistically constrained by complexity, regulatory debate and excessive demand. 

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USC survives spending review but who are we kidding?

Posted on Oct 22 2010 by Darren Farnden | 1 Comment

Earlier this week the much anticipated ‘spending review’ was unveiled and, as previously promised by Chancellor George Osbourne, the highly debated 2Mbps USC (Universal Service Commitment) remains unaffected. The 2Mbps USC was proposed by the previous Labour government initially to provide all UK households with a minimum 2Mbps Internet service by 2012. When the coalition government took power this deadline was extended to 2015 but there were fears that it may be compromised or even scrapped as part of the stringent spending cuts.

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

Whilst controversially only providing a minimum of 2Mbps, which many within the industry (including Entanet) have argued is far from fast enough to keep up with increasing demands and technological developments, at least it is a start for the ‘not spots’ of the UK. Therefore the industry was keen to see it protected. True to his word, Mr Osbourne appears to have done this. The USC will, as previously suspected, be funded by the remnants of the digital switchover fund and by the BBC license fee, and is forecasted to cost £530million over the next four years. It has also been confirmed that there will be no controversial broadband tax.

Whilst £530million may seem a lot there is ongoing concern that this forecast is wrong, with the previous Labour government expecting costs to reach £2-3billion.

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Poll: What do you think should be done about the advertising of broadband speeds?

Posted on Sep 09 2010 by Claire Dutton-Merrills | 2 Comments

It has recently been reported that ISPs are misleading their consumers on the real speeds of their broadband services. We would like to know what you think should be done about the advertising of broadband speeds. Therefore we have added a new poll to find out your thoughts. Remember you can also leave us a comment below.

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Google: From advocate to adversary?

Posted on Aug 24 2010 by Neil Watson | Comments Off on Google: From advocate to adversary?

The ongoing international debate over net neutrality has been thrown into the limelight once again. This time its news of an unlikely partnership between Google, the once vocal advocates of net neutrality, and Verizon.

Neil Watson, Head of Service Operations

Neil Watson, Head of Service Operations

News broke regarding a ‘deal’ between Google and Verizon which would see the two companies put together a proposal for the tackling of net neutrality in the US. At first glance the two titans appear to support net neutrality and agree with previous plans from the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) ensuring all providers are transparent about the management of their networks and prohibit discrimination against certain types of legal content.

“In providing broadband Internet access service, a provider would be prohibited from engaging in undue discrimination against any lawful Internet content, application, or service in a manner that causes meaningful harm to competition or to users. Prioritization of Internet traffic would be presumed inconsistent with the non-discrimination standard, but the presumption could be rebutted.”

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Broadband: BBC license fee killer?

Posted on Aug 18 2010 by Elsa Chen | Comments Off on Broadband: BBC license fee killer?

Earlier this month a discussion broke out in the industry in response to the publication of a report by David Graham from the Adam Smith Institute. Mr Graham’s report suggests universal broadband will lead to the abolishment of the BBC’s license fee and he argues that this will be a positive move as it will force the BBC to become more competitive.

Elsa Chen, General Manager

Elsa Chen, General Manager

Whilst I agree in theory that abolishing the license fee would force the BBC into providing a more competitive and therefore hopefully higher quality service, I struggle to believe that broadband will be the catalyst for this.

Firstly despite the promised, yet now delayed, 2Mbps USC the UK is still a long way off enjoying truly ‘universal’ broadband, especially at the speeds required to easily support IPTV services. Besides which even if UK residents had universal access to high speed broadband they would still (currently) be legally required to purchase a license if they intend to watch programmes as they are broadcast (e.g. streaming). Although, a license is not required for ‘on demand’ services (e.g. BBC iPlayer).

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DEA: The debate continues…

Posted on Aug 05 2010 by Darren Farnden | Comments Off on DEA: The debate continues…

In April 2010 the controversial Digital Economy Bill (DEB) was passed through the parliamentary wash-up and hastily implemented into law, much to the annoyance of many ISPs, Internet users and industry bodies. Then in May we saw history made with a new coalition government taking power. We were initially hopeful that the new government would put right the wrongs of the rushed DEA (Digital Economy Act) but have since seen little in the way of progress. Yet despite this lack of government action, over the last three months the industry news has continued to provide a steady stream of DEA related updates. We take a look at what’s been going on and provide you with an update.

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

To repeal or not to repeal?

It appears the proposed tackling of copyright infringement is still the main focus of unease within the DEA. At the end of June, Liberal Democrat MP, Julian Huppert, tabled an Early Day Motion (EDM) to repeal sections 9 – 18, the sections that cover the issue of illegal copyright infringement. Unfortunately the EDM gained little support and appears to have dropped off the radar.

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A promising start for the new secretary of state

Posted on Jun 10 2010 by Darren Farnden | Comments Off on A promising start for the new secretary of state

Jeremy Hunt, The Secretary of State for Culture, the Olympics Media and Sport has announced the Government’s plans regarding delivering superfast broadband to the UK. In his first speech on the subject he said: “Singapore wants universal access to superfast broadband by 2012, by which time Korea plans to have provided one million homes with 1 gigabit per second connections – a speed which can download a two hour film in just 12 seconds.

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

But in this country, the legacy was – in the same timescale – a commitment to a paltry 2Mbps universal connection. Necessary, of course, but pitifully un-ambitious compared to a Korean goal 500 times faster.

It is a scandal that nearly 3 million households in this country still cannot access 2Mbps broadband speeds, and less than 1% of the country is able to access the internet using modern fibre optic technology – compared to an OECD average of around 10%.”

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Out with the old and in with the new

Posted on May 20 2010 by Darren Farnden | Comments Off on Out with the old and in with the new

What does the new coalition government have in store for the Internet industry?

Well this month has seen history made with the formation of our new coalition government. As David Cameron and Nick Clegg start out on their new partnership we take a look at each party’s previous stance on several topical industry issues and suggest how we think the new coalition government will go about tackling them.

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

Reviewing the DEA

Let’s start with one of the industry’s biggest issues. The DEA (Digital Economy Act) has been one of the most talked about topics with debate starting right back at its conception, but the most infuriating thing of all about the DEB was the ridiculous way in which this controversial Bill was rushed through the wash-up and into law.

During the election campaign the Liberal Democrat’s Nick Clegg stated that he believed this was a “stitch-up”. He said “We did our best to prevent the Digital Economy Bill being rushed through at the last moment. It badly needed more debate and amendment, and we are extremely worried that it will now lead to completely innocent people having their Internet connections cut off. It was far too heavily weighted in favour of the big corporations and those who are worried about too much information becoming available. It badly needs to be repealed, and the issues revisited.”

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