Virgin Media Disciplined Over False "Unlimited" Mobile Data Claim

By Gary Cutlack on at

The Advertising Standards Authority has had to explain to Virgin Media what the term "unlimited" actually means, telling the network to stop describing its traffic-throttled mobile data connections as unlimited.

Virgin's excuse was that its mobile data cap reduces connection speed to 384 kbit/s once users download more than 3.5GB in a month -- and that's OK because 384 kbit/s is still well within the accepted limits for 3G connection speed and its small print only said it offered an "up to" speed anyway.

The ad standards police didn't agree, though. The ASA explained in its ruling: "Given the speeds we understood consumers were likely to achieve before the restriction, we considered that they were likely to notice the drop in speeds once the restriction was applied, as had a number of the complainants. We considered that a reduction in speed from an average we understood to be approximately 6 Mbit/s to 384 kbit/s once the limit was reached, was more than a moderate reduction."

The result saw the ASA tell Virgin what the word unlimited really means, explaining with the bookish authority of Susie Dent that: "We told Virgin Media Ltd not to claim that a service was 'unlimited' if the limitations that affected the speed or usage of the service were more than moderate."

So that's some limits = not unlimited. [ASA]