The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned several adverts for UK fixed wireless broadband ISP 6G Internet (IX Wireless) after they were found to have caused confusing by “misleadingly implying that a sixth-generation mobile network existed and was able to be used by consumers.” Awkward.
The provider, which has previously spoken of an aspiration to cover 250,000 UK premises with their new fibre-fed fixed wireless home broadband network – rising to 4 million by 2025 (here), has so far been conducting most of their rollouts in several towns and cities (Blackburn, Blackpool, Preston etc.) across the Greater Manchester and Lancashire areas of England.
In the past we’ve often remarked on how the name of the ISP – despite being established in 2013 – would inevitably come into some conflict with future 6G mobile technology, which is still in the early stages of development and isn’t expected to start replacing commercial 5G networks until around 2028 or later. But adopting 6G into their brand is certainly one way to make a technology seem more advanced and to get extra publicity.
However, the ASA, acting in response to a general complaint that challenged whether the company name ‘6G Internet’ misleadingly implied that a sixth-generation mobile network existed and was able to be used by consumers, has now ruled that the ISP had indeed been “misleading“. On top of that, they also picked up on the provider’s questionable use of “full fibre” wording in their adverts (e.g. “6Ginternet: Full fibre speed broadband only £9.99 per month“).
In its defence 6G Internet pointed out that 6G does not yet exist and their “6G” service related to home internet, and not to the different generations of mobile technology (note: mobile signals can also be used for home broadband). The ISP added that they were also not aware of receiving complaints from consumers, Ofcom, DCMS or the ASA about confusion between the 6G Internet brand name and the services that they provided.
ASA Ruling on 6G Internet Ltd
The company’s name was 6G Internet and they offered home broadband to consumers. The name of the company appeared prominently in both ads (a) and ad (b).The ASA understood that the most advanced mobile technology was 5G and that 6G, or sixth-generation, mobile technology was still in development. However, we considered that consumers would be aware that the technology was named after each iteration, or ‘generation’ of the technology and therefore would make a connection to mobile technology when they saw the company name.
Ad (b) also stated, “Delivering Better Broadband”, “How is 6G Internet different?”, “A new network built in 2021”, “Latest router technology”, “our innovative network uses fibre optic cables and wireless technology to deliver broadband fibre speeds at an affordable price” and “We wanted to offer them faster internet speeds at lower prices but we couldn’t do it with the old-fashioned copper wiring and out-of-date technology that most internet providers use.” We therefore considered that consumers would understand that6G Internet was more advanced and operated in a different way to other broadband providers that only used fibre optic or copper cables.
Ad (b) also stated, “6G Internet wirelessly sends full fibre directly to your home, bypassing the slower and heavily congested copper cables, giving you a more reliable, faster speed internet connection through our gigabit ready network” and underneath featured an image of a mast transmitting a radio signal. Underneath, the ad compared how 6G Internet operated differently to Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) technology. We therefore considered that this image, coupled with the 6G Internet name reinforced the impression that it used, in part, mobile technology to deliver broadband to consumers.
We noted both ads (a) and (b) made references to “full fibre speed broadband only” and “full fibre speeds” and that ad (b) also stated, “Check availability and broadband offers in your area”. However, we considered that there were hybrid broadband routers on the market that had a broadband connection that was backed up with a 4G or 5G connection and that therefore mobile technology and home broadband could not be entirely separated. We also considered that consumers would have a limited understanding of broadband technology, and how it worked, and would likely understand that they would get a broadband connection using an innovative 6G mobile internet technology.
However, we understood that the technology used was in fact fibre optic cables with a transmitter using fixed wireless technology, rather than an advanced sixth generation mobile technology. Because consumers would interpret the name to mean that it used the next generation 6G internet technology, when that was not the case, we concluded that the name ‘6G Internet’ was likely to mislead in the context of its presentation in the ads.
The ASA banned the adverts and told 6G Internet Ltd not to imply that a sixth-generation mobile network existed and was able to be used by consumers, which as you can imagine could be quite problematic for an ISP that literally has “6G” as part of its brand name.
A quick look at 6G Internet’s website today shows that they’ve now tweaked their brand logo to read “6Gi Fixed Wireless Broadband” instead of “6G internet” and include a clear description on their front page to state: “Our fixed wireless network does not use any existing 4G, 5G or 6G technology and does not use any cellular technology to deliver our broadband services.” Well, it only took a decade to add that, but better MASSIVELY late than never.