Three Gets its 'Real 5G' Ads Banned by the ASA

By Shabana Arif on at

The Twitter and newspaper ads ruffled the feathers of Three's competitors last year have been banned by the ASA for being a load of old todgers.

Last year, Three ran a campaign espousing the merits of its 5G network, claiming it offered 'real 5G'. This pissed off rival networks, with O2 getting Ofcom involved, while EE and Vodafone took their complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). Well now the ASA's verdict is in, and it's called bullshit on Three's ads. As the ASA summarises:

"Three said the structure of their network (a cloud core and 20 data centres across the UK) delivered the lowest possible latency and better service experience and that other providers would not have similar infrastructure in place for two years or more...

"Three believed their access to this bandwidth set them apart from other 5G operators, none of which had access to 100 MHz of bandwidth, and that this was what the reference to 'real 5G' was intended to relate to."

The network has bought a slice of the spectrum that will potentially allow for better coverage and higher speeds, but Ofcom has previously addressed this, saying it wasn't as if Three would have “an unmatchable competitive advantage” a result. The ASA's ruling says that it obtained "informal advice" from Ofcom, and basically concluded that at the time the ads went live - and even now - 5G is still in its very early stages, and so claims about being better and faster hold little water.

"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.

"Given that, we considered Three's 5G service was not, at that time, likely to be so significantly better than other 5G services as to render them not "real" 5G, or such that there was little value in obtaining those services. We therefore concluded that the claim "If it's not Three, it's not real 5G" was likely to mislead."

Perhaps Three can run the ads again when there are enough people using 5G that the spectrum it splashed out on will actually make a discernible enough difference to justify mouthing off about it. [ASA]