BT rebuked for giving public false hope on fibre broadband
By Stewart Mitchell
Posted on 9 Jan 2013 at 11:53
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has attacked BT over the way its fibre line-checker kept extending dates for availability of superfast broadband services.
According to the ASA, BT's line checker was misleading consumers because it stated when they would be able to receive fibre-based services, only to push the dates back by three months, sometimes repeatedly.
The situation could lead to customers not signing up to rival ISPs because they were under the impression that they would soon be able to receive fibre, with the ASA ruling that BT should change the way it operates the line checker.
"We considered that the appearance of a date or provisional date in the availability checker suggested that active plans were in place to roll out BT Infinity in that area and that the service would therefore be available on or around that time, and the listed date should not be subsequently or regularly pushed back," the ASA said.
We considered that the date BT Infinity was expected to be available in their area would be a material consideration for consumers
"We considered that the date BT Infinity was expected to be available in their area would be a material consideration for consumers when deciding whether to register an interest in the service."
The ASA cited cases which showed the company had told potential customers that plans for fibre in their area had been put on hold while the line checker continued to promise delivery within three months.
The confusion stems from the fact that both the exchange and a local cabinet need to be enable for fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) services to be made available, and the ASA said BT needed to improve the information provided to make it more accurate.
The ruling comes amid widespread dissatisfaction among consumers left without next-generation broadband, despite their exchanges being enabled, with BT often advertising in areas where roadside cabinets have yet to be upgraded.
It's something that's already upset our own Barry Collins, but according to BT's response to the ASA the telco is working on a revamped system that could be more granular and include information in individual cabinets.
"BT said it was working closely with Openreach [the wholesale division of BT], who provided the data that went into the checker, to improve the accuracy of the information it gave to customers," the ASA said.
"It stated that, additionally, its work with Openreach had resulted in the development of the new superfast online checker and the availability checker was to be significantly amended in early 2013."
The ruling alludes to improvements that would see cabinet as well as exchange availability built into the line checker, but BT said it doesn't have any details of the upgrade at present.
A spokesperson for BT said the company was "disappointed" with the ruling. "People clearly want to know when fibre might become available in their area and so BT has been publishing its best estimates on a regular basis. Those plans sometimes have to change however if local planning permission isn’t granted or we find that a third party can’t meet our deadlines.
"Fifteen complaints is a tiny number when you consider that BT is enabling tens of thousands of cabinets but we will work with the ASA to make changes where we can as it is clear that people remain keen to know when fibre might reach them."
Stop telling me what I want, BT!!
"people want to know when fibre might become available in their area"
No BT! This kind of patronizing nonsense makes me viciously angry! People want to know when fibre *WILL* become available *TO THEM*. People are not interested in exchanges or cabinets, they are interested in service to them. Politically, we are not interested either, what we want to know is the proportion of premises that have, and that could purchase fibre broadband today and at milestone dates in the future.
Maybe you cannot give us that, but that does not alter the fact that it is what we want!
By JohnAHind on 9 Jan 2013
Well I fell for it and signed up to BT for 18m. Still waiting for Infinity which is still showing as available at my exchange....
By Merry_Man on 9 Jan 2013
The local area where I work has supposedly been Infinity enabled for nearly a year, yet our office cannot get it.
BT are blank refusing to provide Infinity for the town centre because we are 'too close' to the exchange, despite the fact that FTTC doesnt even go through the exchange. Took our MD 4 months of correspondance with BT, MP's and friends of friends who work in BT to find out there is a flaw in the FTTC system that prevents premisis directly connected to an exchange (not via a standard cabinate) from having both FTTC and normal telephony services.
Technical issues aside, BT do need to be much more fine-grained with their information; it needs to be able to tell you if it available for individual premises, not just the local area.
By ding_jimmy on 9 Jan 2013
I was one of the 15 complainants!
Thank you PC Pro for publishing this.
As one of the 15 people who complained to the ASA about this I am SHOCKED at BT's response.
It is totally wrong to try and belittle this matter ans suggest it only affects 15 people.
I've been blogging about this for 15 months and on my tiny blog alone I've had more than 200 people sharing the same problem
Even BT's own forums have hundreds of people experiencing this:
SHAME on BT for your pathetic lack of apology - we know you made a mistake, you know you made a mistake, the ASA told you you made a mistake, now own up, say sorry and fix it please!
By urbanhaze on 9 Jan 2013
"Well I fell for it and signed up to BT for 18m. Still waiting for Infinity..."
Now you know why it's called Infinity!
By martindaler on 9 Jan 2013
Another fine mess Stanley !
BT have been given enough chances as far as I'm concerned.It's like the madmen in charge of the asylum.There has to be better companies out there.Suggestions on a postcard please...........
By michael48elton on 10 Jan 2013
Infinity. The time a whole lot of people will be wait until they get Infinity.
By linux1943 on 10 Jan 2013
Checkers and so on
There are two checkers. http://www.superfast-openreach.co.uk/where-and-whe
n/ is the one you need.
If it shows your exchange has been enabled then the the main problem may be the objections by neighbours to the cabinets. Google on Kensington and Chelsea, and Camden
Check with your local council's planning department. The applications are hard to locate. BUT their post codes are given on this site. So get you Councillor on the job or serve an FOI on the Council asking about applications which have been made (they may be made by OpenWorlds Contractor.)
You may have dark suspicions about BT's rival in the field.
This is not the only reason why you may not get fibre. If it is working there may be others ( like a phone line installed sometime before the middle of the last century!)
If there is an current planning application write in and support it.
I am considering offering BT a sheltered site (from the street) in my garden!
There are very strange anomalies. Manchester Central exchange appears to have no cabinets though there is one outside my flat and has not been enabled!. It covers Manchester City Centre.
I will be talking to Manchester City Council's Officer responsible for the 'economic' aspects of data in Greater Manchester's Economic Hub
I hope Stuart with the info I have given above will now actually investigate the issue. I takes a couple of hours.
By cping500 on 12 Jan 2013
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