The Fibre To The Home (FTTH) Council Europe wants to see a crackdown on how the term fibre is used in marketing broadband services in the EU.
In an open letter to the Telecoms Ministers ahead of the Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council Meeting held in Brussels earlier this week, the FTTH Council expressed its deep concern over advertising practices in some Member States where the term is used in marketing for what are not full-fibre broadband solutions.
There are various broadband technologies that use fibre up to a certain distance from the user’s home or premises, for example:
- FTTC – Fibre To The Curb
- FTTN – Fibre To The Node
In both instances, after the fibre terminates the remainder of the connection occurs over existing copper lines, impacting on potential speeds.
The advertising practice is apparently leading a significant proportion of consumers believing they have a true fibre broadband connection when in fact they don’t.
“A survey conducted in the UK has shown that almost a quarter (24%) of the respondents think they already have fibre cables running all the way to their home (fibre-to-the-premises), despite this was only available to 3% of UK properties,” says the FTTH Council. That survey involved a sample of 3,422 home broadband users and was carried out in July 2018.
Fears Of Impact On Full Fibre Demand
The Council is concerned that not only are these consumers being misled, it could also dampen demand for full fibre broadband services.
“We are firmly convinced that the proper use of the word fibre in advertisements would empower consumers to make an informed choice and in turn have a beneficial effect on the take-up of Very High Capacity Networks, which is vital for investments in new fibre networks.”
The FTTH Council notes some countries have already taken action, such as Italy where the word can only be used when marketing FTTH or fibre to the building (FTTB) services.
FTTH Council Europe was established in 2004 and now has 150 members across the continent.
With regard to telecommunications, the Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council in partnership with the European Parliament is responsible for adopting legislation and guidelines on networks and their interoperability, and to improve competition, cyber security and innovation in the sector.
“Fibre” Use In Australia
It’s not clear what the rules of the road are in Australia specifically relating to use of the word “fibre”, but the Australia Competition & Consumer Commission has published guidelines for internet service providers concerning advertising broadband speeds for fixed line services. Specific reference is made to technology-specific service limitations, and in particular limitations arising where a copper line is used to connect a premise.
The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) also comes into play. The ACL protects consumers against conduct that is misleading or deceptive or is likely to mislead or deceive.