A website ad, for the "Bright Box 2" fibre broadband router, included a section headed "SO CLEVER IT DOESN'T NEED AN ENGINEER". Text underneath stated "We're making it easier than anyone else to get superfast Fibre Broadband. That's because our new Bright Box router is the first 'plug and play' Fibre Broadband Router in the UK. So now you don't have to wait for an engineer to come and set it up. Just plug it in and your[sic] good to go".
British Telecommunications plc (BT) challenged whether the claim "our new Bright Box router is the first 'plug and play' Fibre Broadband Router in the UK" was misleading and could be substantiated.
EE Ltd explained that the Bright Box 2's “plug and play” feature enabled customers to self-install fibre broadband without the need for an engineer to visit their home to set up the connection. They said the concept of self-install fibre broadband had been introduced by a BT Group business, Openreach, several years previously, and that in December 2012 Openreach had begun trialling the facility with a small number of customers. Openreach had made the self-install facility openly available to all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in May 2013, which meant that ISPs who wished to do so could offer the facility to their own customers, although Openreach had in the meantime continued trialling the technology. EE said they had been keen to make the self-install facility readily available to their customers as soon as possible.
EE said they had announced the Bright Box 2 router in July 2013, and it was subsequently made available to a limited number of customers during an initial trial period. The Bright Box 2 was then made available to EE customers purchasing 76 Mbps fibre broadband, via their website, from 23 September 2013, and then to all fibre broadband customers from 3 December 2013. All customers had been able to make use of the self-install capability. EE clarified that in the event that a customer did not have a landline, an engineer would need to visit their home to install one, but that customers were then able to self-install the fibre broadband themselves.
EE said they understood that BT had launched their Home Hub 5 router on 2 December 2013. They said the Home Hub 5 incorporated self-install technology, but the facility had not yet been made active for customers to use. They understood that BT would not be making the self-install facility active until Openreach's trial of the technology had ended.
EE believed the claim "our new Bright Box router is the first 'plug and play' Fibre Broadband Router in the UK" would be interpreted by consumers to mean that the Bright Box 2 router was the first router on the market with self-install technology enabled, rather than that it was the first router on the market with a self-install capability. They said the Bright Box 2 router had been available to consumers with the self-install capability enabled since 23 September 2013, whereas all other routers on the market, including BT's Home Hub 5, required an engineer to connect them to fibre broadband services regardless of whether the router was technically capable of supporting self-installation.
The ASA considered it likely that some consumers would not be familiar with the term 'plug and play' in relation to fibre broadband, but that in the context of other information in the ad such as "So now you don't have to wait for an engineer to come and set it up. Just plug it in and your[sic] good to go", they would understand that the router enabled customers to set up their fibre broadband connection themselves, rather than needing an engineer to visit their home to set up the connection. We therefore considered that consumers would understand the claim "our new Bright Box router is the first 'plug and play' Fibre Broadband Router in the UK" to mean that EE's Bright Box 2 router was the first fibre broadband router in the UK which allowed customers to set up their fibre broadband themselves (to "self-install"), without the need for an engineer to visit their home.
We understood that the BT Openreach trial of self-install fibre broadband had been ongoing since December 2012, and that BT's Home Hub 5 router had been available to BT customers in a pilot scheme from 11 October 2013, and had subsequently been made available for purchase with BT Infinity from 1 November 2013. However, we understood that whilst the Home Hub 5 incorporated self-install technology, that facility had not yet been enabled, and therefore customers who received a Home Hub 5 router when they signed up to BT Infinity needed an engineer to visit their home to set up the fibre broadband connection. Because we understood that EE's Bright Box 2 router had been available, with the self-install facility enabled, to all EE fibre broadband customers since 3 December 2013 (and to customers on their 76 Mbps broadband since 23 September 2013), we concluded the claim "our new Bright Box router is the first 'plug and play' Fibre Broadband Router in the UK" was not misleading.
We investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Marketing communications must not mislead the consumer by omitting material information. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner.
Material information is information that the consumer needs to make informed decisions in relation to a product. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead the consumer depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the marketing communication is constrained by time or space, the measures that the marketer takes to make that information available to the consumer by other means. (Misleading advertising), 3.7 3.7 Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation. (Substantiation), 3.9 3.9 Marketing communications must state significant limitations and qualifications. Qualifications may clarify but must not contradict the claims that they qualify. (Qualification), 3.11 3.11 Marketing communications must not mislead consumers by exaggerating the capability or performance of a product. (Exaggeration) and 3.38 3.38 Marketing communications that include a comparison with an unidentifiable competitor must not mislead, or be likely to mislead, the consumer. The elements of the comparison must not be selected to give the marketer an unrepresentative advantage. (Other Comparisons), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.