The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has recently drawn a conclusion to its investigation into the legitimacy of a series of 5G-related advertisements produced by EE. Following complaints lodged by rivals Vodafone and Three UK, coupled with the concerns of a public individual, the ASA has enacted a ban on the adverts.

The objections raised primarily argued that EE’s commercials were scant on facts, failing to transparently illustrate why its 5G offering was the superior option. The claim that EE was operating the ‘UK’s No.1 5G network’ was a particular point of contention. The based argument was that crucial information was either glaringly absent or not made easily accessible to the consumers.

Paying heed to this feedback, the ASA sided with the majority of the complainants. An official statement indicated that many of the advertisements “did not provide sufficient information to allow consumers to understand the comparison”. In certain cases, the entity deemed “the amount of information provided about the testing methodology… not sufficient”.

As an outcome of the investigation, the ASA’s decision prevents the usage of these adverts in their current form. However, this resolution hardly presents a significant setback for EE, as the adverts have not been deployed since August 2020.

In the watchdog’s final ruling, it stated the disputed ads must be reworked before being aired again. EE was instructed to ensure that their materials “provided sufficient information to enable consumers to verify comparisons with identifiable competitors or adequately signposted consumers to such information.” It remains unclear why the investigation took such a lengthy time, but some argue that the ruling serves as a gentle nudge to EE to tread carefully in the future.

This type of confrontation is not new to the telecom industry. The year 2020 witnessed similar clashes, with Three UK witnessing several of its adverts being banned as a result of misleading claims about their 5G capacity. EE also had several advertisements flagged, primarily those claiming the firm’s 5G network as ‘unrivalled’, ‘unbeatable’, and the UK’s ‘No. 1 network’.

In related developments, ISP 6G Internet recently also faced the ASA’s ban hammer. Certain advertisements by the firm were deemed to potentially mislead customers into thinking that they could procure non-existent 6G mobile services.

As the UK’s telecom operators continue to vie for the 5G spotlight, industry conversations are very much ongoing. Connected Britain, hailed as the country’s prime digital economy event, brings together key players for vital debates surrounding the future of 5G in the UK.