Monday 19 August 2019 5:57 pm

5G fisticuffs: EE files complaint over Three's 'real' network advert

Mobile operator EE has fired the latest salvo in an escalating clash between telecoms firms, filing a complaint with the advertising watchdog over a campaign promoting Three’s 5G network.

EE has raised concerns about newspaper and social media adverts that claimed Three’s network provided the only “real” 5G service. Under advertising rules, a brand must be able to back up any claims of superiority with evidence.

Read more: Three switches on 5G for wireless home broadband

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it has received five complaints about the campaign, one of which came from EE’s parent company BT.



“Three’s claim to be the only real 5G network is entirely false, and deliberately aimed at misleading consumers,” EE said in a statement. “Our customers have been using real 5G since we launched the UK’s first 5G network, back in May.”

The watchdog said it is investigating the ads and will publish its decision in due course.

The clash, first reported by the Guardian, comes as tensions heat up between UK mobile providers over the rollout of the next-generation network.

O2, Vodafone and EE have all complained to regulator Ofcom that the spectrum auction process unfairly favours Three.

Three is the only operator to hold a 100MHz contiguous block of spectrum, which it has said will make its 5G services faster and more reliable.

A Three spokesperson said: “Our advert is to inform consumers that we will offer the fastest 5G network, based on Three having three times as much 5G spectrum as any other operator.”

But rivals have called on Ofcom to even out the spread of airwaves between the companies in order to level the playing field.


Three today switched on its 5G network for its new wireless broadband service, which is available to customers across London.

Read more: O2 complains 5G spectrum auction unfairly favours rival Three

“It’s great to see providers of the new 5G network getting so competitive, and it’s even great better for consumers that Three is offering subscribers 5G at no extra cost,” said Mark Pocock, home communications expert at Broadband Choices.

“What’s more, focusing on a different sector to their competitors should give Three a competitive advantage in the market for 5G service as a substitute for home broadband.”

Main image credit: Three

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