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KCOM backs call to ban “fake fibre” claims

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Not everyone benefitting from full fibre says European body

KCOM has backed calls to stop internet providers making misleading fibre broadband claims.

Sean Royce, the managing director of the Hull-based communications firm, says some providers are being allowed to misrepresent their broadband as “full fibre” despite their services using old copper wiring.

Mr Royce has backed calls by industry body the Fibre To The Home Council Europe to clamp down on broadband providers who are dressing inferior services up as fibre.

Mr Royce said comparing Fibre To The Home (FTTH) broadband to Fibre To The Cabinet (FTTC) was like “comparing a jet plane with a horse and cart”.

He said: “We strongly back the FTTH Council Europe’s demands to clamp down on misleading advertising which portrays FTTC broadband as full fibre. It must be very confusing for customers who think they’re getting a full fibre service when, in reality, their broadband is limping the last leg of its journey to the home on old copper wiring.

“To be able to advertise this as fibre is frankly wrong. At KCOM, we’ve invested heavily in rolling out true full fibre broadband which is now providing our customers with Gigabit speeds.”

KCOM is now on the final leg of its £85m programme of rolling out full fibre broadband across its Hull and East Yorkshire network.

It will reach 100 per cent of its network - some 200,000 premises - by March 2019. Nationally, just five per cent of premises have access to full fibre broadband.

While FTTH (also called Fibre To The Premises, of FTTP) delivers ultrafast broadband straight to customers’ routers, FTTC services only delivers fibre to the street cabinet down the road. The internet signal then makes the last leg of its journey on copper wiring.

These hybrid services are significantly slower and less reliable than full fibre.

Mr Royce said: “When other providers are able to promote their inferior, half-copper services as fibre broadband it undermines the value of what investors in FTTH are achieving and the quality of the product – and it may put off other ISPs investing in this much needed technology.

“This can only be bad for the UK’s businesses which could be left trailing in the slow lane behind other advanced economies and it could damage our reputation as a leading tech nation.”

The President of the FTTH Council Europe, Ronan Kelly, has published an open letter to EU telecoms ministers, which calls on them to stop “misleading fibre advertising” by UK and EU broadband Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

Telecoms ministers are currently gathered in Brussels to adopt the new European Electronic Communications Code, where they will also consider what can and cannot be labelled fibre.

In his letter Mr Kelly says: “We are witnessing “fake fibre” advertising practices in several Member States using “fibre” or “fibre speeds” in advertisements for copper-based broadband, when the advertised product is not genuinely based on a full fibre connection.

“First of all, a consumer thinking they already have full fibre will never switch to a FTTH connection. Misusing the word fibre in advertisements prevents the consumers from making an informed choice about the products which are available to them and risks hindering fibre take-up.

“There is growing evidence that consumers are largely unaware of the form of internet connectivity they have bought, oftentimes due to the associated advertising.

“A survey conducted in the UK (by Cityfibre) has shown that almost a quarter (24 per cent) of the respondents think they already have fibre cables running all the way to their home (fibre-to-the-premises), despite this was only available to three percent of UK properties.

“Where consumers know what they can choose from and understand the difference in performance between fibre and copper-based connections, they consciously choose fibre.”

To find out more about the difference between FTTH and FTTC broadband click here

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