A Facebook sponsored post and a website for Sure mobile network, seen in November 2018 and March 2019:
a. The Facebook sponsored post featured text which stated "Join Sure and get 6 months half price on Jersey's fastest mobile network". Further text stated "Go Sure. Go better. on [sic] the Island's Fastest Network".
b. The website web.sure.com, featured two pages. Text on the first page stated "Sure has fastest mobile network in the Channel Islands verified by CICRA". Text on the second page stated "Fastest Network. Sure's mobile network is officially the fastest in the Channel Islands following the release of the Channel Islands Competition and Regulatory Authority's Independent research, conducted by industry specialist Regulaid".
JT (Jersey) Ltd challenged whether the claims that Sure was the fastest mobile network on the Channel Islands were misleading and could be substantiated.
Sure (Guernsey) Ltd said CICRA (Channel Islands Competition and Regulatory Authority), which was responsible for the regulation of the telecoms sector in the Channel Islands, engaged Regulaid, regulatory specialists, to perform an audit of each local operator's mobile network. They provided a copy of the report, which was published on 1 November 2017.
Sure said the analysis which JT had relied upon and which showed JT as the fastest network and upon which JT challenged the claim, highlighted a number of material issues which meant they were an unreliable comparison, such as the sample size, geographical coverage, the variety of devices used to test speed and that some users may not, either accidentally or deliberately, have 4G enabled on a 4G compatible device when the testing was conducted.
Sure said that ad (a) provided a link to their press release which gave further details of the CICRA report. They said they would amend the ad to ensure it referred to the month the tests were conducted, July 2017, rather than the publication month of the report.
The ASA considered that consumers would understand the claim “on [sic] the Island’s Fastest Network” in ad (a) to mean that Sure was the fastest mobile network operator in Jersey at the time the ad was seen. Similarly, we considered consumers would understand the claim “Sure has fastest mobile network in the Channel Islands verified by CICRA” in ad (b) to mean that according to CICRA, Sure provided faster network speeds than any other mobile network operator across the Channel Islands at the time the ad was seen.
To substantiate the claim, we expected Sure to provide up-to-date evidence which demonstrated their speeds were faster than any other mobile network operator in the Channel Islands. We understood that CICRA’s ‘drive-test report’, which captured speeds on three smartphones at intervals while driving, walking and cycling across Jersey, Guernsey, Sark, Herm and Alderney, was designed to ensure that three operators met a series of network performance requirements, which included the obligation to provide 2 mbps download speeds to 95% of the population at 90% of the time.
While the report did show that Sure’s average download speeds were faster than their two largest competitors (including JT), we noted those speeds were captured in July 2017. The report was not designed specifically to capture fastest network speeds, nor was it a guarantee of future fastest speeds.
We noted the testing which JT had relied upon to challenge the claim. We did not accept that this testing was superior to the testing conducted by CICRA, given the lower coverage areas and the fact that it was user-initiated through a specific mobile app. However, we acknowledged that the results contrasted starkly with those captured in CICRA’s report. We considered that called into question the age of the CICRA report and its use by Sure as a basis upon which to make fastest speed claims given that it was not specifically designed to capture fastest network speeds.
We acknowledged that ad (a) referred specifically to CICRA’s report and consequently gave consumers information about the basis upon which they had made the claim. However, for the reasons outlined, we considered that the report was no longer a sufficient basis upon which to make the claim. Because of that, we concluded that the claims that Sure were the fastest mobile network operator in the Channel Islands were likely to mislead.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (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) and 3.33 3.33 Marketing communications that include a comparison with an identifiable competitor must not mislead, or be likely to mislead, the consumer about either the advertised product or the competing product. (Comparisons with identifiable competitors).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Sure (Guernsey) Ltd to ensure that they did not make claims that they were the fastest network in the Channel Islands unless they held up-to-date documentary evidence to demonstrate that was the case.