ASA bans Sky broadband press ad

Wednesday, September 16 2009, 13:31 BST

By Andrew Laughlin,

The Advertising Standards Authority has banned a "misleading" press advertisement for Sky's broadband service following a complaint from BT.

Under the banner headline 'Reduce Your Costs Not Your Speed', the advert claimed that consumers in a Sky network area would not have their broadband speeds slowed down at peak time as they would with BT or Virgin Media.

In response, BT said that the statement was misleading because it implied that all BT users have their speeds slowed during peak times, when it fact this component of the fair usage policy only applies to "very heavy users".

However, Sky countered that all BT and Virgin Media customers are liable for fair usage policies, in which traffic management teams monitor the network for areas of heavy usage to keep capacity flowing and reduce levels of abuse.

In comparison, Sky said that its Sky Broadband Unlimited (previously Sky Broadband Max) is the only truly unlimited service which does not slow down speeds at any time, regardless of usage.

The ASA noted that both BT and Virgin do operate fair usage policies on all their broadband services, whereas Sky Broadband Unlimited offers unlimited broadband in Sky network areas without restrictions on the bandwidth being used.

However, it upheld the complaint that the ad wrongly inferred that all BT and Virgin Media customers - even those just using low bandwidth browsing services - would have their speeds slowed at peak times. As this claim was deemed to be misleading, the ASA ruled that the ad "should not appear again in its current form".

Last week, the ASA also ruled in favour of BT over another "misleading" Sky advert which promoted the potential savings available when switching landline and broadband services from BT.