Virgin Media slammed for ‘UK’s fastest broadband’ claim

The Advertising Standards Agency has ordered the ISP to withdraw its advert touting Virgin as the fastest broadband provider in Britain

Virgin Media has been hit by another ruling from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), ordering the internet service provider (ISP) to withdraw its claim as the ‘UK’s fastest broadband’ provider.

An advert making this proclamation was circulated in a yet-to-be-named technology magazine and was reported to the ASA by rival ISP BT, which claimed the statement could be “misleading” and questioned whether it could be backed up.

Virgin Media told the ASA the declaration was “adequately qualified” and believed it was obvious the statistics were taken from the Ofcom and SamKnows joint report on average download speeds, as pointed to in the small print.

However, the ASA claimed the study only took into account 90% of the UK and ignored niche providers which could deliver faster download speeds than Virgin Media’s advertised 50Mbps.

“We understood that those [niche providers] equated to a small percentage of homes in the UK, but nonetheless considered that, because some UK consumers could achieve faster download speeds than those delivered by Virgin, the claim was misleading,” read the ASA ruling.

The regulator told Virgin Media the advert could not be shown again and the ISP was not allow to claim its broadband was the fastest in the UK unless it held "adequate comparative evidence to substantiate that was the case".

A spokesman from Virgin Media played down the ruling to Computer Weekly, saying the company now had to use “fastest widely available” as its tagline, so it was not a massive change.

“Virgin Media is the fastest ISP by any realistic measure and independent results have proven time and again that we deliver the speeds we advertise,” he added.

This is the latest spat in a line of battles the ASA has become the middleman for between Virgin Media and BT.

Last month, Virgin Media had four complaints upheld by ASA regarding BT’s advert for its Infinity Broadband, all saying the ISP’s claims that the service was “unbeatable” were misleading and unsubstantiated.

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