Telco challenger CityFibre gets High Court permission to go ahead with legal fight against 'misleading' broadband adverts

Josh Mines
Fiber-optic cable
CityFibre argues that the advertising watchdog should step up the fight against misleading broadband adverts (Source: Getty)

A legal bid from one of the UK's prominent telecoms challengers designed to stop Internet providers advertising misleading claims about full fibre took a step forward today as the High Court let its appeal go forward.

CityFibre initially launched legal action against marketing regulator the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in March after the regulator ruled that customers were not being misled by firms promising "full-fibre services".

Most the UK's broadband infrastructure is connected by fibre cables - however the final metres to homes and businesses is connected by older copper wiring.

The firm, which is partially owned by Neil Woodford, says that ASA's decision to uphold rules which don't require advertisers to distinguish between full and part fibre services is bad news for customers.

Read more: Is BT's fibre broadband for real? Legal bid launched to end "fake fibre"

"The High Court is seeing sense where the ASA failed to: this is the right decision for consumers and our economy," said Greg Mesch, chief executive of City Fibre. "CityFibre challenged the ASA's decision because consumers must not be misled into thinking they can get full-fibre benefits on a copper broadband network - they can’t: copper is dead.

"It is now time to sort out these advertising rules once and for all, and for the government and industry to get behind the nationwide broadband targets set by the chancellor. Companies are investing billions because of the transformative connectivity full fibre brings; the court has a one-off chance to step in and make a difference for consumers before the mis-selling of broadband becomes the next PPI-style scandal."

The advertising watchdog now has 35 days to prepare its case for the review of the decision.

It comes weeks after chancellor Philip Hammond set new targets for full fibre deployment, targeting full UK coverage by 2033.

The ASA has been contacted for comment.

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