Telecoms companies to face clampdown on ‘fake fibre’ adverts

Advertising watchdog plans to restrict when word ‘fibre’ can be used in broadband adverts

Irish telcos may soon face a clampdown on how they market their broadband products amid a spike in complaints about so-called “fake fibre” adverts.

The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI) is planning to impose stricter rules that will stop providers promising "fibre" in their broadband adverts when the connections still rely on ageing copper lines.

The move follows complaints from consumer groups that broadband users are being duped into believing they are buying fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) products despite the technology only being available to less than 5 per cent of the State’s two million homes.

“The ASAI is currently finalising a guidance note for companies that will set out how fibre networks are to be described when advertising to consumers,” the watchdog said.


“There are a number of outstanding details that need to be finalised, so an exact timeline of when this will come into effect cannot be given,” it said.

Despite a string of major announcements about the rollout of fibre broadband less than 108,000 homes and properties in the Republic had “full-fibre” connections as of the end of the March this year, according to figures from regulator ComReg.


Europe’s FTTH council has long claimed that using the term “fibre broadband” in adverts for part-fibre services that still rely heavily on the old copper infrastructure is misleading.

"There is growing evidence that consumers are largely unaware of the form of internet connectivity they have bought, oftentimes due to the associated advertising," council president Ronan Kelly said in a recent letter to EU communications ministers.

Pure fibre connections can deliver broadband speeds of up to 1,000 megabits per second (Mbps), outstripping most other technologies, and are viewed as the gold standard of internet connectivity.

Fibre technology is seen by the Government as the best way of resolving Ireland's so-called "digital apartheid" and is expected to be offered to more than 540,000 homes in rural Ireland under the Government's National Broadband Plan (NBP) despite the high capital costs of the rolling out the technology in rural areas.

Rival telcos Eir and Siro, the ESB's joint venture with Vodafone, are the State's leading providers of "full-fibre" broadband. Between them they account for 95 per cent of the 108,000 FTTH connections in the Irish market. According to industry sources, Eir has 60,000 connections, Siro has 43,000 while Magnet has 5,000.

Siro, which utilises the ESB’s electricity network of poles and pylons, yesterday launched a new €20 million rollout for Galway city, which will provide up to 30,000 premises with pure end-to-end fibre connections.

The network build will commence from Siro points of interconnect in Galway, Oranmore and Moneenageisha to cover 30 clusters in the Galway area .

"Our gigabit connectivity will complement Galway's rich technology heritage and put it on a par with international cities like Hong Kong and Tokyo in terms of broadband quality," Siro chief executive John Keaney said.

Also speaking at the launch, Seán Kyne, Minister of State for the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht and the Islands, said the investment in Galway by Siro was a direct result of the Government's policies on broadband which have included enabling the use of the ESB network for telecommunications.

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times