David Howarth, (Cambridge MP)
Virgin Media supplies me, and many of your constituents with Broadband internet. They wrote to me this week to say: “Virgin Broadband comes via fibre optic cable”. It clearly doesn’t as normal traditional metallic cables bring it into my house.
Virgin media have been at this game of lying about the fibre optic nature of their network for some time, and when Googling around my latest letter my attention was drawn to a recent ruling by the Advertising Standards Agency with respect to Virgin Media on the issue of them saying they deliver Broadband by fibre optic cable:
The ASA investigated Virgin Media under ” CAP Code clause 7.1 (Truthfulness) “, and despite the fact that they lied found them not in breach as they determined it was “not likely to mislead”.
I find the tone of the adjudication incredible:
“One complainant objected that the poster was misleading because they believed that the delivery of broadband from the street into the home used metal co-axial cable and not fibre-optic cable.”
It is not a matter of belief, the complainant clearly could see metal co-axial coming into his home, as I can into mine, to suggest that this is anything less than a matter of fact is absurd.
The ASA appear unaware that in some countries in the world, notably South Korea, fibre optic cabling to the home is common.
They could even find examples of fibre optic to homes in this country:
“BT Openreach, Land Securities and British Sky Broadcasting are considering deploying a fibre optic to the home network in the Ebbsfleet Valley due in August 2008”:
Given fiber optic cabling to the home does exist, I think the ASA ruling is wrong and a clear likelihood to mislead is present.
How are we going to get a true broadband Britain that is internationally competitive if the Broadband suppliers are able to lie to their consumers and tell them we already have it?
Britain is backward in this respect, the Government letting Virgin Media tell the public we’ve got fibre optic broadband is not the same as actually getting the network in place. Getting a fibre optic network in place to UK homes and businesses is something I think crucial to the future success of the UK.
Why is the ASA supporting Virgin’s lies, and not BSkyB’s complaint?
As the ASA have ruled, clearly wrongly in my view, my next step is to write to you and ask you to raise this though the channels you have available to you. Perhaps you could raise this in Parliament, pass my email to Chris Smith the ex. Culture Secretary and ASA Chairman, or send it to the appropriate minister?
I have of course approached Virgin Media directly, and they have written to me to say:
Thanks for email to Virgin Media enquiring about laying fibre optic
cable in your area.
We wish to inform that. as of now we don’t have any update about laying
fibre optic cable in your area. However, as we get the information about
the same, we will make sure to inform you through relevant media.
I have also approached trading standards, who referred me to the ASA.
Please do not feel obliged to spend time and money replying to me, I am
happy to have simply had the opportunity to make my opinion known to you.