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    Confusion as ASA Ban Gigaclear’s Absolute FTTP Broadband Speed Claims

    This is a discussion on Confusion as ASA Ban Gigaclear’s Absolute FTTP Broadband Speed Claims within the General Computing and Internet forums, part of the Community channel category; Confusion as ASA Ban Gigaclear's Absolute FTTP Broadband Speed Claims - ISPreview UK Sometimes rulings by the Advertising Standards Authority ...

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      Confusion as ASA Ban Gigaclear’s Absolute FTTP Broadband Speed Claims

      Confusion as ASA Ban Gigaclear's Absolute FTTP Broadband Speed Claims - ISPreview UK
      Sometimes rulings by the Advertising Standards Authority can seem a little overzealous and their latest decision to stop rural fibre optic broadband ISP Gigaclear from advertising absolute Internet speeds (e.g. 1000Mbps without the notorious “up to” prefix) on their website might just stray into that territory. Hyperoptic, B4RN and Gigler take note.

      The ASA noted how a promotional claim on Gigaclear’s website promised that “each customer connection to the Gigaclear network runs at 1000Mbps (1Gbps) for uploads and 1000Mbps (1Gbps) for downloads regardless of time of day, weather or distance from the cabinet“, which was similarly adjusted to reflect subscribers on their slower speed packages (e.g. 50Mbps, 100Mbps etc.).

      But a complainant challenged the wording and broadly suggested that the “ad misleadingly implied that customers would always receive the stated speed capacity for the service they had purchased, because they believed the speed customers would receive was dependent on additional factors.”

      Gigaclear responded by providing data from their customers’ usage and line speeds. On top of that they claimed to have a “significant backhaul capacity” in proportion to their relatively low number of customers. The ISP then made clear that their Permitted Information Rate (PIR) was set at 10% “higher” than the advertised speed capacity (most ISPs go in the opposite direction for PIR), thus somebody on their 50Mbps package might actually receive 55Mbps.
      ASA Ruling (Ref: A13-241560)

      The ad included details of the stability of Gigaclear’s network; noting that the network ran at 1000 Mbps for uploads and downloads regardless of time of day, weather or distance from the cabinet. The ad also made no reference to the speed of the service being ‘up to’. In that context, we considered consumers would understand the ad to mean that customers would always receive the stated speed capacity for the service they purchased.


      Whilst we acknowledged that the majority of the line-speed data demonstrated that the advertiser’s customers received the stated speed capacity, we were concerned that a number of instances, in the relatively small data sample, showed that Gigaclear’s customers did not achieve the stated speed capacity. Because we considered the speed claims were absolute in nature and because we had not seen sufficient evidence to support those claims, we concluded that the ad breached the Code.
      The ASA banned the promotion and told Gigaclear to ensure that their “ads were not likely to mislead consumers in future“, which is a decision that could potentially impact other Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) style providers like Hyperoptic, B4RN, Gigler and so forth, where absolute speed claims are often used. In fact a lot of non-fibre ISPs still promote speeds in absolutes and we’ve seen plenty of smaller ISPs do this for ADSL, Satellite, Wireless and FTTC connections, which are much more likely to deliver variable performance.

      But the ruling does raise important questions about network performance. The reality of networking technology is that connection performance is almost never perfectly reflective of a headline speed. Even true fibre optic ISPs sometimes still need to manage their traffic but Gigaclear doesn’t appear to be at that stage. Similarly speed testers can be inaccurate and you’re far more likely to find a bottle neck with remote Internet services or client-side hardware than at your ISP on a true fibre optic provider, especially one like Gigaclear that has surplus capacity.

      On top of that it’s unclear what the ASA would deem “sufficient evidence” to be from a small ISP, which will only ever be able to produce an equally small sample size. In this instance we don’t know how “small” that sample actually was but we’d like to think that the ASA also considered proportionality in their ruling.


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      Re: Confusion as ASA Ban Gigaclear’s Absolute FTTP Broadband Speed Claims

      Line congestion aside, I always thought that FTTP/H would always sync at the advertised maximum speed and there was no need for an 'up to' figure. Seems I was wrong.

      TomD


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      Re: Confusion as ASA Ban Gigaclear’s Absolute FTTP Broadband Speed Claims

      Hence the confusion.

      Yes FTTP connects at the stated speed, unlike ADSL and FTTC (VDSL).

      Technically the actual speed achieved will most likely be dependent on the speed that the server you are connecting to works at. For example the servers which this forum are hosted on work at 100mb IIRC. This is enough for this forum and most other sites work at a similar speed.

      However the people who advise Ofcom don't know about how the computers work.

      PlusNet Fibre since Jan 2021
      Previously Sky Fibre & Sky BB since 2010.

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      Re: Confusion as ASA Ban Gigaclear’s Absolute FTTP Broadband Speed Claims

      I know that Verizon and most places have gone with the ITU-T G.984 GPON (gigabit passive optical network). I have a limited working understanding of how it works...I was out of the networking business by the time GPON was rolling out.

      In a GPON, the ONT (optical network terminal) does in fact sync at the stated speed; in fact, mine at least syncs up to the main network a 2.2gbps. However, you have to take in to consideration how PON networks work. There's no active swiching between you and the central office/exchange/wherever they stuck the farm; you literally have one single strand of fiber that runs to an area that's then connected to an optical splitter that splits that optical signal out to multiple taps. However, this means you do in fact have to "share" the fiber much in the same way you have to share cable...except slightly differently. Downstream data is sent framed and encrypted to *every* ONT on the line at the same time, the ONT then filters out it's data. Uplink is a bit different, after determining the latency on the line to each ONT, a table is worked out where each ONT has a transmit window in which they may transmit. These windows are negotiated quite quickly and my understanding are adaptable, if one customer is using barely any upstream it will adapt to let the person using the bandwidth have it. There are separate wavelengths on this one piece of fiber; one for downstream data, one for upstream data, and we use a RF-over-fibre technique to deliver TV (Verizon developed the system before IPTV was established). The sharing nearly isn't as bad as cable; you have fewer people trying to fight for the same bandwidth and since there's very little loss on a fibre link, you can push a whole lot of data per transmit window.

      Technically the actual speed achieved will most likely be dependent on the speed that the server you are connecting to works at.
      It's slightly more complicated than that. Even though your ONT is sync'd to the network at gigabit speeds; they can control the rate of data you're given. This is unlike DSL where your modem sync's up at the maximum speed you're provisioned. For example, my fibre network runs at 2.2gbps; my router uses coax (MoCA) to link with the ONT; and that syncs up at a maximum of about 245mbps. However, I'm only provisioned for 35/35 access to the internet; and this is controlled somewhere else within the network before the data gets piped out over the fibre; as my connection speeds run closer to 42/38 on a regular basis (it's not an off-peak/on-peak deal...it runs over provisioned all the time). My old router had a status page that would show you the physical link speed of the ONT; but the new one I picked up doesn't have that page anymore.

      But yes, in a FTTP installation; the ONT physically sync's up to the fibre network at gigabit speed.

      It is quite misleading to tell people they're getting "up to gigabit" speed when they're provisioned at something much much lower. Over here, there have been multiple issues with ISP's over the years misquoting speeds to simply sell more access. It was always known that when the ISP's said "speeds up to", you could generally expect less than half of those speeds. I have to agree that you can't claim gigabit speed for merely running a fiber network. Yes, in theory you could get up to those speeds; but they likely don't have the network infrastructure to support that kind of data to a user except in a burst; and that would depend on the user running GigE ethernet.

      But as I've said before, they're allowed to call FTTC/VDSL service as "fibre" over there where as you're not allowed to advertise a service as fiber-optic here unless it's purely FTTP. None of the providers over here even advertise gigabit speed except Google, who is actually offering gigabit speed in to the home. All the other providers play it safe and quote your speed at your provisioned data rate.

     

     

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