The UK Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has moved to ban Three’s ‘real 5G’ advertising campaign, ruling that it could mislead the public about 5G services.
Three’s ads were based around the phrase ‘if it’s not Three, it’s not real 5G’. According to Telecoms.com, BT, Vodafone an independent telecoms consultant and five members of the public complained, resulting in the ASA’s ruling.
The ruling states:
“Overall we considered they [the public] would interpret the ads to mean that the 5G services offered by other providers would not provide those significantly faster speeds and that there was little value in obtaining 5G from them … We understood that, all other factors being equal, greater bandwidth would allow a provider to support greater traffic capacity. However, because take up was still so limited, differences in 5G capacity between networks were unlikely to result in material differences in the experiences of end users at the time the ad appeared.”
In using the term ‘real 5G’, Three was seen to be implying that rival networks had a non-genuine version of 5G. Given the uncertainty in the public knowledge around the new technology, the ASA has adjudged the ads to be disingenuous and potentially giving Three an unfair market advantage.
But Three argues its claim is based on the fact it owns a slice of 100MHz 5G spectrum, something unique compared to its rivals. It won the 3.4GHz frequency at auction, but rivals have argued the advert still implies their 5G offerings aren't legit. Even though Three can reasonably suggest its 100MHz slice of spectrum offers technically more capacity, it has lost the right to use the term 'real 5G' to describe its advantages.
5G networks are rolling out across the UK with O2, Vodafone and EE as Three’s rivals. 5G coverage is nowhere close to nationwide yet, and likely won’t be for at least another year. The rollout will also likely be slowed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
For now, your 4G connection will do you just fine. Trust us.