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One UK network is already misleading customers over 5G

The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has stepped in to ban a Vodafone ad over what it deemed to be misleading claims regarding the network’s fledgling 5G service.

The watchdog’s point of contention surrounds claims of a 5G Unlimited Data Plan that comes without limits. Vodafone had advertised said 5G plans from just £23 a month.

The text of the ad promised: “No limits, no worries Worrying about your data allowance will be a thing of the past. Total phone freedom Do what you love for as long as you like, without having to hunt for Wi-Fi. Welcome to your Unlimited world, on our award-winning network.”

However, the fine print soon revealed some of those limits, namely the data speed caps within the Unlimited Lite and Unlimited plans. The £23 a month Unlimited Lite plan caps download speeds at a paltry 2Mbps. The £26 a month Unlimited Plan tethers users to a max download speed of 10Mbps. Only the Unlimited Max plan includes the full 5G speeds.

Related: 5G in the UK – what you need to know

The issue arose thanks to challenges from Virgin Media and Three UK over the validly of the Unlimited claims made within the ads posted on Facebook, uSwitch, on the web and in regional and national newspapers.

In a lengthy assessment (via Venture Beat) of the claim, the ASA agreed the ads breached several advertising rules and upheld the challenge from the rival networks.

The ASA added: “The ads must not appear again in their current forms. We told Vodafone Ltd to ensure that future ads relating to the Unlimited Lite and Unlimited plans (either explicitly or implicitly) clearly stated the speed restrictions which applied to those plans. We told them to ensure that any references to 5G which would be understood by consumers as relating to the Unlimited Lite and Unlimited plans were immediately qualified to explain clearly that the plans would not deliver 5G speeds.”

Let that be a warning to you, mobile networks. Stay on the level with us about 5G, OK!

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