The FTTH Council highlighted this issue as the European Parliament gathered in Strasbourg to approve the European Electronic Communications Code in November 2018, and a month later, as Telecoms Ministers gathered in Brussels to adopt the Code, signing the act on December 11, 2018.
According to the Code - the new legislative telecommunications framework - National Regulatory Authorities must consider four objectives when implementing legislation: promoting competition, the internal market, end-users’ benefits and connectivity, and access to as well as take-up of Very High Capacity Networks by all EU citizens and businesses. However, in several member states, advertisements for copper-based broadband refer to ‘fibre’ and ‘fibre speeds’.
“Misusing the word ‘fibre’ prevents consumers from making an informed choice about available products and may hinder fibre take-up,” explains Erzsébet Fitori, Director General FTTH Council Europe. “Selling copper-based connections as fibre undermines the value proposition of real fibre and undercuts the investment case for full fibre deployment. Consumers who believe they already have fibre won’t switch to a FTTH connection.”
“Many people still don’t fully realize that fibre is a prerequisite for tomorrow’s digital society and economy. Fibre is the foundational enabler for the connectivity needs of today and tomorrow and operators need to plan ahead for convergence between fixed and mobile networks. As fibre networks are increasingly being deployed the migration from legacy copper networks to fibre and the ultimate shutdown of copper also need to be carefully managed. Without fibre, we can’t have adequately performing wireless or 5G base stations that can accommodate more devices. Acting on misleading fibre advertising is in the interest of all European citizens and businesses but is also in the interest of Europe’s global digital competitiveness and sustainability.”
This issue has already been identified in several Member States. Several countries are leading the way with specific legislation to limit the use of ‘FTTH’, ‘Full Fibre’ and other fibre-related terms in advertising. In Italy for example, the regulator requires that the term fibre is only used when marketing fibre to the home (FTTH) or fibre to the building (FTTB) services. Operators are required to use an easily understandable ‘traffic light’ system in their communications to consumers1. The FTTH Council Europe is convinced that this action will prove to be a very powerful tool in unlocking investment in full fibre rollout and advocate for a more consistent and European approach to this issue.
Erzsébet concludes: “We urge Member States, National Regulatory Authorities and BEREC to take individual as well as collective action to stop misleading fibre advertising. This will help unlock the investment potential in fibre across Europe as well as ensure consumers can make informed choices based on accurate, transparent information.”
1 AGCOM decision 292/18/CONS - Article 7