FISP today submitted its response to the Advertising Standards Authority consultation on broadband speed claims.
The ASA has come under increasing political pressure to adapt its (somewhat soft) rulings on broadband advertising. Over the past two decades it has become increasing clear that many service designs can only be sold with a high degree of reliance on consumer ignorance supported by political gullibility and a lack of forward thinking.
Governments have long realised the errors of past policies and now recognise the imminent dangers to future economic and societal health – but until very recently successive regimes have been reluctant to offend champions of supposedly free-market efficiencies.
As in many other arenas, ‘best’ has become a code-word for short-term profit. The inevitable consequences demand remedial actions and in this case a small but immediate burden falls on the ASA.
This consultation is only a very small step towards the restoration of design principles that place ‘fitness for purpose’ above short-term supplier convenience.
Whilst some providers may bet on stretching a technology ‘fix’ to overcome the limitations of aging copper connections, or maybe hope that wireless can render them all redundant, other technologies are emerging that reinforce the case for Full Fibre deployment.
The fence-sitting (face-saving) argument-avoiding, regulatory stance of Technology Neutrality is now increasingly seen by many as a dereliction of public duty – and the remedial costs of transition to a more-principled approach to regulation in the interests of the entire economy will only increase with any further delay.
The ASA, inevitably, can only deal with the excessive advertising froth that has sustained current markets. The spotlight of policy attention needs now to be focused more sharply on re-education of local community leaders and their empowerment to drive towards sustainable digital infrastructure provisions that will meet the real needs of local businesses, citizens and our public sector services.