Advanced Television

Virgin rapped for broadband ad

July 3, 2008

Virgin Media that promoted broadband download times for TV shows and music has been banned after rival internet provider BT complained to the advertising regulator that the speeds quoted were inaccurate.

The national press ad, which ran with the headline Hate To Wait, featured a table with download times for TV shows and music tracks based on different broadband packages offered by Virgin Media. BT complained that the download speeds quoted in the ad were misleading because Virgin Media’s traffic management policy capped downloading speeds at peak times.

Virgin Media, which has made much of the fact that its cable network offers superior broadband speeds than rival operators, said that its traffic management system “only focused on the heaviest downloaders and uploaders” on its network because it was the heavy users who slow the internet speeds for other subscribers, especially at peak times, according to Virgin Media.

The company added that its traffic management system was only active from 4pm until 9pm and threshold levels were graduated based on whether users had, say, 2Mb or 20Mb connections.

However, the company admitted that customers on its “M” package could not download even one TV show in peaktime without having speed moderation triggered, while “L” package customers could download just two TV shows or 60 songs.

The ASA noted that only a “small proportion” of Virgin Media customers had been subject to its traffic management policy. However, the regulator concluded the ad was misleading.

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