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BT 'UK's most powerful Wi-Fi'? Why, fie, for shame! – ads watchdog

Blood hath been shed 'ere now. Take that claim down anon, orders ASA

BT has been ticked off for running a campaign claiming to have the UK's "most powerful" broadband, almost two years after it was hauled before the ad industry watchdog over the same issue.

Back in June 2017, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) rapped the former state monopoly on the knuckles for "misleading" and "inaccurate" boasts that its Smart Hub provided a "stronger signal" than all of its competitors. BT was clearly undeterred by the ASA.

Fast-forward to the here and now and the gummy-mouthed watchdog received a complaint from Virgin Media – itself no stranger to criticism about its own campaigns – about two BT promos: one for consumers and one for businesses.

The first, aimed at households, included the claim "UK's most powerful Wi-Fi vs major broadband providers" as part of the Unlimited Infinity bundle. The second made the same claim but was aimed at businesses via the BT Business Smart Hub.

Virgin Media took umbrage and questioned if the broadband boasts were misleading and could be substantiated.

According to the ASA, the incumbent telco said it had carried out additional verification of its claims by running fresh tests in-house that "sought to prove that their router still provided the best performance at a far distance from the router, even in the presence of Wi-Fi and non-Wi-Fi interference".

This included neighbouring Wi-Fi networks, Wi-Fi co-channel interference, Wi-Fi adjacent channel interference and Bluetooth. The testing was only conducted on a 2.4GHz signal because this was the signal that was able to reach the farthest, rather than 5GHz.

The same methodology was applied by BT to its business routers with tests run in the labs and on business premises, the ASA said.

The ads watchdog upheld the complaint.

"We told BT not to claim that their routers were 'the UK's most powerful' unless they could demonstrate that they could provide a stronger signal than other major providers when subjected to other forms of non-Wi-Fi interference, and unless they could provide recordings of the levels of all types of interference when each router was tested to demonstrate that each router was subjected to consistent levels of interference."

This is the 11th complaint about a BT ad campaign that the ASA has received since 2015. Seven have been upheld, data from the watchdog showed.

So, dear reader, expect to find BT's claim of router power to make a return in, let's say, two years. ®

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