A press ad for Orange mobile broadband has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority. The 'top dongle' ad said "The Orange 3G network covers more people in the UK than any other operator"; a statement that the Three network disagreed with. Hutchison 3G UK argued that they had the largest 3G network in the UK, based on population coverage.
Orange said their claim was based on population coverage as opposed to geographical coverage, insisting that Orange led on the former whilst Three had the largest geographical coverage. It said it had looked at the published 3G coverage figures from each network before coming to this conclusion.
The ASA's response said Orange's ad was ambiguous because it didn't make it clear whether the claim referred to Orange covering more people in the places where they lived than any other operator (population coverage), or more people in the UK wherever they might be using their 3G mobile device (geographical coverage). It also said there was no evidence that each network measured population coverage in the same way, so it wasn't valid to use other networks' figures as a comparison.
As a result, the advertisement must not be shown again. Orange has also been told not to compare its population coverage with that of competitors unless it can demonstrate that such claims were based on directly comparable measurement and reporting methods.