The UK's Advertising Standards Authority is investigating ISPs' use of the word "fiber" -- or "fibre" -- to describe the final link to customers' broadband connections when, in many cases, providers rely on existing copper.
Currently, providers use the term fiber to describe full- and partial-fiber installations, ASA wrote in a blog. But the British government's Digital Strategy, published in March 2017, states fiber can only be used to describe "full-fiber broadband services," the ASA said.
Because some ISPs depend on copper for the last-mile connection between homes and the cabinet, several consumers have complained about speed to the watchdog agency and Member of Parliament Matt Warman. Subscribers specifically grouse the speeds they receive do not meet the broadband speed promises ISPs made in their advertising materials, according to ASA. Most areas receive broadband via FTTC (fiber-to-the-cabinet), and the ultimate connection occurs over existing copper lines, an approach that saves both money and time for providers and consumers.
Digital Strategy states the British government's commitment to a full-fiber broadband infrastructure across the country. Parliament recently discussed concerns about the use of fiber to describe partial-fiber broadband.
"In response to that context and those concerns, we are now scoping a review of how we interpret the Advertising Codes when judging the use of the term 'fiber' to describe broadband services," ASA wrote. "In particular, we will be considering whether the use of that term is likely to cause people to be materially misled. Our work has already begun and we will provide an update with more information by the summer."
It's unknown whether the ASA is also considering advances in copper-based technologies such as G.fast or if consumers with speed complaints use broadband infrastructure that includes G.fast or other solutions designed to accelerate transmission via copper. For example, G.fast products capable of producing gigabit speeds are expected to become available this year, said ADTRAN Head of Global Product Marketing Kurt Raaflaub in an interview with UBB2020 this week. (See G.fast to Hit Gigabit Speed in 2017)
— Alison Diana, Editor, UBB2020. Follow us on Twitter @UBB2020 or @alisoncdiana.