Complaint: 13/466

Vodafone Website

Details

Complainants
C. Stewart
advertisers
Vodafone
Year
2013
Media
Digital Marketing
Product
Telecommunications
Clauses
Decision
Not Upheld
ASA Links
Website Listing
Decision Document

Document

COMPLAINT NUMBER
13/466
COMPLAINANT
C. Stewart
ADVERTISER
Vodafone New Zealand Limited
ADVERTISEMENT
Vodafone Website
DATE OF MEETING
12 November 2013
OUTCOME
Not Upheld


SUMMARY

The website advertisement for Vodafone (http://www.vodafone.co.nz) promoted its 4G network. It stated, in part: "4G is now live in parts of New Plymouth. It's already live in parts of Palmerston North, Wellington, Wanaka, Queenstown, Christchurch, Taupo and Auckland.."

The Complainant said advertisement was misleading as Vodafone's new network was 4GLTE which was a variant of the 3G network, not 4G.

The Complaints Board said the Advertiser had satisfactorily substantiated its claim made in the advertisement that the upgrade could be referred to as 4G.

Given the technical information provided by the Advertiser, the Complaints Board said the advertisement did not contain anything which was likely to deceive or mislead consumers and, as such, had been prepared with a due sense of social responsibility to consumers and to society.

The Complaints Board ruled to Not Uphold the complaint.

[No further action required]

Please note this headnote does not form part of the Decision.



COMPLAINTS BOARD DECISION

The Chairman directed the Complaints Board to consider the advertisement with reference to Basic Principle 4 and Rule 2 of the Code of Ethics. This required the Complaints Board to consider whether or not the advertisement contained anything which, either directly or by implication, was likely to deceive or mislead the consumer and if it had been prepared with a due sense of social responsibility to consumers and to society.

The Complaints Board then turned to the Advertiser's response and noted where it stated, in part: "Vodafone does not agree with C. Stewart, and submits that its description of its 4G LTE network as '4G' is accurate and in accordance with accepted international definitions. In addition, this is consistent with how other telecommunications providers around the world describe this technology.

In telecommunication systems, 4G is the fourth generation of mobile phone mobile communication technology standards. It is a successor to the third generation (3G) standards.

In March 2008, the International Telecommunications Union-Radio group (ITU-R) specified a set of requirements for 4G standards, named the International Mobile Telecommunications Advanced (IMT-Advanced) specification.

  1. Internationally, two 4G systems are currently commercially deployed. These are the Mobile WiMAX standard and the first-release Long Term Evolution (LTE) standard.

  1. In December 2010, the ITU-R addressed this issue at the ITU World Radio communication Seminar, where it recognized that these two technologies, as well as other beyond-3G technologies that do not fulfill the IMT-Advanced requirements, could nevertheless be considered '4G'."


The Complaints Board noted the Advertiser included a press release that also confirmed that LTE could be referred to as 4G.

The Complaints Board said the Advertiser had satisfactorily substantiated the claim made in the advertisement that the upgrade could be referred to as 4G.

Given the technical information provided by the Advertiser, the Complaints Board said the advertisement did not contain anything which was likely to deceive or mislead consumers and, as such, had been prepared with a due sense of social responsibility to consumers and to society. Therefore, the Chairman ruled there was no apparent breach of Basic Principle 4 or Rule 2 of the Code of Ethics.

Accordingly, the Complaints Board ruled to Not Uphold the complaint.


DESCRIPTION OF ADVERTISEMENT

The website advertisement for Vodafone (http://www.vodafone.co.nz) promoted its 4G network. It stated, in part: "4G is now live in parts of New Plymouth. It's already live in parts of Palmerston North, Wellington, Wanaka, Queenstown, Christchurch, Taupo and Auckland.."

COMPLAINT FROM C. STEWART

The 4G (4th generation) service that is offered is highly misleading as it is actually 4GLTE (long term evolution) which is actually a variant of 3G (3rd generation). The whole concept of being allowed to label LTE as 4G and not have it set as 3G is also highly misleading as it implies that it is 4G and not 3G of which it actually is.

Code of Ethics

Basic Principle 4: All advertisements should be prepared with a due sense of social responsibility to consumers and to society.

Rule 2: Truthful Presentation - Advertisements should not contain any statement or visual presentation or create an overall impression which directly or by implication, omission, ambiguity or exaggerated claim is misleading or deceptive, is likely to deceive or mislead the consumer, makes false and misleading representation, abuses the trust of the consumer or exploits his/her lack of experience or knowledge. (Obvious hyperbole, identifiable as such, is not considered to be misleading)

RESPONSE FROM ADVERTISER, VODAFONE NEW ZEALAND LIMITED

  1. Thank you for your letter dated 15 October 2013 containing the complaint by C. Stewart.

  1. The website referred to in the complaint by C. Stewart is created and maintained internally by Vodafone, and no agency was involved.

  1. The Authority has identified the relevant section to be Basic Principle 4, Rule 2:

All Advertisements should be prepared with a due sense of social responsibility to consumers and society (Basic Principle 4)

Truthful Presentation: Advertisements should not contain any statement or visual presentation or create an overall impression which directly or by implication, omission, ambiguity or exaggerated claim is misleading or deceptive, is likely to deceive or mislead the consumer, makes false and misleading representation, abuses the trust of the consumer or exploits his/her lack of experience or knowledge. (Obvious hyperbole, identifiable as such, is not considered to be misleading (Rule 2)

  1. In C. Stewart's complaint, he states that Vodafone's reference to its 4G network is misleading because this technology is not 4G, but it actually 4GLTE which is a variant of 3G.

  1. Vodafone does not agree with C. Stewart, and submits that its description of its 4G LTE network as '4G' is accurate and in accordance with accepted international definitions. In addition, this is consistent with how other telecommunications providers around the world describe this technology.


The Technology

  1. In telecommunication systems, 4G is the fourth generation of mobile phone mobile communication technology standards. It is a successor to the third generation (3G) standards.

  1. In March 2008, the International Telecommunications Union-Radio group (ITU-R) specified a set of requirements for 4G standards, named the International Mobile Telecommunications Advanced (IMT-Advanced) specification. This specification set (amongst other requirements) peak speed requirements for 4G service at 100 megabits per second (Mbit/s) for high mobility communication (such as from trains and cars) and 1 gigabit per second (Gbit/s) for low mobility communication (such as pedestrians and stationary users).

  1. Internationally, two 4G systems are currently commercially deployed. These are the Mobile WiMAX standard and the first-release Long Term Evolution (LTE) standard.

  1. The first-release versions of Mobile WiMAX and LTE did not reach the peak bit rate specifications, so they were not considered fully IMT-Advanced compliant. While not reaching the technical specifications of IMT-Advanced, these are more advanced than 3G technologies that came before it. For this reason, referring to these as '3G' did not properly acknowledge the technical advances of these systems.

  1. In December 2010, the ITU-R addressed this issue at the ITU World Radio communication Seminar, where it recognized that these two technologies, as well as other beyond-3G technologies that do not fulfill the IMT-Advanced requirements, could nevertheless be considered "4G".

Following a detailed evaluation against stringent technical and operational criteria, ITU has determined that "LTE-Advanced" and "WirelessMAN-Advanced" should be accorded the official designation of IMT-Advanced. As the most advanced technologies currently defined for global wireless mobile broadband communications, IMT-Advanced is considered as n4G", although it is recognized that this term, while undefined, may also be applied to the forerunners of these technologies, LTE and WiMax, and to other evolved 3G technologies providing a substantial level of improvement in performance and capabilities with respect to the initial third generation systems now deployed, (emphasis added)

  1. The press release detailing this can be found at

http://www.itu.int/net/pressoffice/press releases/2010/48.aspx, and is attached and marked 'A'

  1. Internationally, telcommunications providers refer to 4G LTE technologies as 4G. For example:

  1. Optus (Australia) See https://www.optus.corn.au/network/mobile/4g (attached and marked 'B')

  1. Verizon (USA).See http//www.verizonwireless.com/wcms/consumer/explore/whv-verizon.html#our-network-coverage (attached and marked 'C')

  1. Vodafone UK. See

http://help.vodafone.co.uk/system/selfservice.controller?CONFIGURATION=1000&PARTITION1D=1&CMD=BROWSE_TOPIC&USERTYPE=1&LANGUAGE=EN&COUNTRY=us&TOPIC_ID=248287&PARENT_TOPIC_ID=248295&SOURCE_FORM=TOPIC_TREE&DISPLAY=SUBTOPICARTICLES

  1. In line with the press release and other telecommunications providers referred to above, Vodafone properly refers to its 4G LTE network as '4G'.

  1. Vodafone respectfully submit that the reference on its website to its 4G LTE network as 4G is not false, misleading or deceptive. All references to 4G are a truthful representation of Vodafone's nework as that term is accepted and understood internationally.


Conclusion

  1. In light of the submission provided above, Vodafone ask that the complaint be NOT UPHELD.

  1. Please do not hesitate to contact the writer if you have any queries on the above, or require any further information.