ISP's ads 'misleadingly implied' existence of 6G, says watchdog
Biz says folks know the difference between fixed and mobile broadband. Do they, though, asks ASA
Despite "diagrams" and in-depth descriptions of exactly how its "full fibre directly to your home" fixed line product works, UK ISP 6G Internet is in hot water after an ads regulator ruled consumers may have thought it was "offering a non-existent future mobile technology."
In its own defence, 6G Internet Limited insisted it's already had the name for 10 years, having incorporated in England and Wales back in 2013 with the same moniker – as seen in a Companies House listing [PDF] here.
In a ruling handed down yesterday, UK regulator the Advertising Standards Authority said it had noted the ads in question made references to "full fibre speed broadband only," but that customers might see it differently.
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The ASA said that it had:
... considered that there were hybrid broadband routers on the market that had a broadband connection that was backed up with a 4G or 5G connection and that therefore mobile technology and home broadband could not be entirely separated.
We also considered that consumers would have a limited understanding of broadband technology, and how it worked, and would likely understand that they would get a broadband connection using an innovative 6G mobile internet technology.
The Brit company said its internet services were delivered over networks operated by group companies "which had full fibre distribution and core networks and used the local access network with fixed wireless technology. They said that since 2019, the local access network used mast infrastructure in public footpaths."
The company added that because 6G does not exist, and that it believes its webpages and ads made it clear that the offering related to home internet, they did not think that consumers would believe they were offering a future mobile network.
How soon is 6G?
A recent workshop described current standards building (in release 18 – more on that below) from 2024 as a "bridge to 6G," but the group has been clear that 6G mobile systems come later, estimating that "6G time-to-market [is] expected to be 2030."
The 6G (sixth-generation wireless) mobile system standard is the successor to 5G, which is itself still under development. 3GPP, overseer of the work on 5G radio tech and other standards, has a system of parallel releases that provide network devs with a stable platform to implement features – and also allows for the addition of new functionality in subsequent releases. The latest work plan is here. Currently, folks in the network world are coordinating on Release 18 – aka "5G-Advanced" – which Huawei is taking a bit of flak for calling 5.5G.
The UK, as we've pointed out on these pages before, is still upgrading its networks to shift from 5G non standalone (NSA), where 5G radios piggy-back on 4G base stations and 4G core networks, to 5G Standalone (SA), with British carriers still working to make those updates – which require a Standalone 5G Core – in the wake of the government's rulings on Huawei. 5G SA is slated to bring more speed and reliability. To put this in perspective, the new 5G SA architecture was introduced in the second wave of the Release 15 standard in June 2018.
As for 6G Internet the company, it mostly has positive ratings on Trustpilot, but at least one user calling themselves Cusyomer commented yesterday: "6G Internet has not been even invented yet. Steer clear from this company."
We've asked 6G Internet for comment, including querying whether it plans to change its name.
Its sister company IX Wireless, which is building the fixed wireless broadband network on which the ISP retails services, has come under fire from locals unhappy about the locations of its newly built mast and poles in the north of England, although it has told local papers the "placement of the poles is 100 percent compliant, and local councils are always aware of any work being undertaken." ®