Virgin Media rapped by adverts watchdog over broadband claim

THE UK’s advertising watchdog has upheld a complaint against Virgin Media after rivals BT and Sky claimed the company was falsely promoting its broadband service as “unlimited”.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said yesterday that Virgin Media’s claim to run an unlimited service – in which users’ download speeds were not throttled – was misleading, even though only a small proportion of customers saw their service affected.

Virgin Media’s website had boasted of “no caps and no hidden charges”, which the ASA said suggested there were no restrictions on use. However, Virgin Media had in fact reduced some users’ speeds by 50 per cent, although this only applied to around two per cent of customers who used an exceptional amount of data.

The ruling said that Virgin Media would have to remove the claim from its adverts if it did not change its practice. The ASA said that limiting was a special concern for Virgin Media customers, which buy the service for data-heavy activities.

The firm said yesterday that it would reduce its throttling from 50 per cent to 40 per cent of top speeds, meaning that it would keep its unlimited claim.

A spokesperson for Virgin Media said that its service still meant faster downloads than comparative services. “Our customers receive unlimited, superfast broadband and, even if they’re one of the tiny minority of traffic managed for a short period of time, Virgin Media customers can download more than other ‘unlimited’ services,” the spokesperson said. “Unlike BT or Sky, all Virgin Media customers can download as much as they like, safe in the knowledge we’ll never charge them more.”