EE seems to have gone one-up in the battle between 4G network providers as the Advertising Standards Agency uphold a complaint it made about the wording of Three’s ultrafast network ads. Despite the fact that Three has only just begun a very minimal roll out of its 4G network, EE is clearly aware that Three may pose a threat to its 4G market leading position due to their offer of unlimited data at no additional cost.
EE’s Complaint about Three
EE appealed to the ASA after Three began using ads last summer which EE claims suggested that Three’s mobile internet services were almost as fast as 4G. Three called their ultrafast network ‘3.9G,’ and EE disputed this as it appeared to suggest that it was only a fraction slower than 4G. The ASA ruled that the ad was misleading, as Three was unable to provide evidence that the speeds of their service were close to those offered on 4G. Three still claims that 3G speeds on the DC-HSDPA technology that they use can in some cases be faster than 4G.
Three also used the phrase ‘4G is nice. But our ultrafast network is built for more’, which EE felt was a direct comparison with their service as they were the only provider of 4G at the time. While Three says that this was meant to convey that network speeds are only one factor among many, the ASA agreed with EE that this was also a misleading and unsubstantiated statement.
It is unclear exactly what EE will gain from the outcome of the complaint. These ads had not been used by Three for some time, and there were no plans to use the phrases again. It appears to be just another episode in the ongoing battle between 4G networks, that EE will use to discredit Three and emphasise their current market leading position.
According to an EE spokesman “We’re pleased the ASA agrees that this ad was misleading. It’s a fact that no other UK network can keep up as EE customers enjoy the UK’s fastest 4G network. 4GEE is more than just a number.”
Three Positive about 4G
Despite a slow launch that has been somewhat disappointing for Three customers, the network is still positive about its 4G capabilities. Responding to questions over whether Three will be able to cope with demand for 4G, and its promise of unlimited data, Three’s Phil Sheppard clarifies:
“We actually have more sites (masts and base stations) than Vodafone and O2. We have 14,000 3G sites in the UK which we’ll covert to 4G, and when we last checked Vodafone and O2 were a few thousand behind. We might only have 10% of mobile customers in the UK, but we account for 43% of all mobile data traffic, so we’re used to dealing with large amounts of traffic.”
Given the latest ruling from ASA, Sheppard was probably wise to stick to comparisons with the other two 4G Network providers and to leave EE out of the equation for the time being. We’ll bring you further updates on the Three 4G rollout as they occur.