5G, the fifth generation of internet connectivity which claims faster upload and download speeds, wider coverage and more stable connections even where lots of devices are being used in a small area at the same time, launched in the UK earlier this year. With only a small number of networks going live, in a limited number of locations and very few handsets ready for mobile usage, there’s still some way to go in the rollout but we’re already seeing ads for 5G appearing – and complaints coming in.
Reports are that 5G may result in a vastly improved user experience. In relation to users of smartphones or other devices it promises better, faster and more reliable connectivity. Advertisers need to ensure that their promises are accurate, clear, and reflect the real experience that users will get.
At the end of 2017, we published guidance on making broadband speed claims in ads – which came into effect in May 2018, and this applies to claims for 5G speeds in the same way it has applied to claims for superfast and 4G speeds before it. There is currently no set definition of speeds that customers can achieve with 5G, and non-numerical speed claims like this are treated on a case by case basis by the ASA; if the ASA receives a complaint about an ad for 5G they will consider the overall impression given, and consider what consumers are likely to expect from it.
As our guidance makes clear, where there are some factors which may cause a significant number of users to achieve speeds significantly lower than advertised, this should be stated in the ad in a way that consumers will understand.
As always, advertisers must have evidence to support any objective claims they make, such as absolute claims about speed, coverage or performance. An absolute claim should only be made if the statement applies to all users all of the time. If an ad for 5G says that consumers will always achieve certain speeds and will never be affected by the number of other users nearby, then the advertiser must have evidence to demonstrate that that is the case.
The ASA position on 5G claims will develop as they see more ads, investigate claims and build precedent through rulings. We’ll be back with more once they’ve ruled on their first few cases. In the meantime, feel free to contact our Copy Advice team for free, bespoke advice on your non-broadcast ads.