Complaints against press, poster and online advertising by Three UK have been upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority.
The ads referred to Three’s 3G network with DC-HSDPA technology. They described the network as ‘ultrafast’ and ‘running at what we affectionately call 3.9G’.
Rival network EE, which runs a 4G service, said it thought the ‘3.9G’ claim was potentially misleading because it implied that data speeds were close to those of 4G services. It also said a claim of ‘our Ultrafast network is built for more’ in some of the ads was misleading.
In its response, Hutchison 3G UK Ltd (Three) said it used ‘3.9G’ to explain that its DC-HSDPA network was superior to basic 3G. It also noted that DC-HSDPA was known as 4G in the USA. In addition, Three provided technical information that showed DC-HSDPA could sometimes outperform 4G LTE, pointing out that the performance of the core network also affected the end user’s experience.
However, the ASA upheld both complaints. It said the ‘3.9G’ claim implied that Three’s network technology and speeds were very close to that of 4G, but noted that Three’s information did not contain evidence of the actual speeds offered by its network.
As well as this, the claim of ‘our Ultrafast network is built for more’ was described as “unclear” and “not verifiable by consumers”.
Three has been told by the ASA that its ads must not appear again in their current form because they breached rules on misleading advertising, substantiation and exaggeration.