The adverts claimed its 4G speeds are faster than Vodafone, O2 and Three’s.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled against three EE adverts on the basis they would mislead customers about 4G speeds.
Each ad – featured on the EE website, in print and on television – said the operator’s 4G network was 50 per cent faster than O2, Vodafone and Three’s. They were accompanied with the claims: “EE’s 4G network is 50 per cent faster than O2, Vodafone and Three. Based on Ookla’s Speedtest Intelligence Portal & Aggregated Data April-Sept ’15.”
The ASA had received complaints about the adverts from Three and two members of the public. Three challenged whether the claims were misleading and could be proven. EE said the figures were based on an independent test by Ookla and necessary measures were taken to ensure there was Ookla’s branding, logo and a footnote backing the claims.
Information on speed was undisputed by the ASA. However, its actions were triggered by worries the footnotes and logos relating to the Ookla test were not prominent enough for viewers to see. The ASA ruled EE must not publish the adverts unless the issues were amended.
A statement from the ASA said: “The text was not linked to the claim; it was in small type; and consumers had to scroll to the bottom of the page to view it. We considered therefore that the text was not sufficiently prominent to correct the initial impression that the claim was accurate when the ad was seen.”
The decision follows a recent call from EE CEO Marc Allera last month for the industry to be clearer on mobile coverage. He argued all operators should base their measurements on more accurate geographic figures instead of population.
An EE spokesperson said: “The ASA confirmed that our claim was 100% accurate and that it was based on reliable, independent tests. The claim expired in October 2016, and the ad had been replaced before this ruling was confirmed. The ASA did, however, say that we should have made it clearer to customers that the claim was based on tests from a specific time period. We know the importance of being transparent about the network experience consumers can expect, so we will make sure our top independent network rankings and awards are presented more clearly in future.”