The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) recently banned a Virgin Media advert on mobile internet data plan that offered 'unlimited data' with a plan usage of 3.5GB worth 3G data.
As per the advert, customers who exceeded that limit were to get their speeds reduced to 384 Kbps. This irked a few customers and the ASA too.
Ruling against Virgin Media, ASA held that 6.1 Mbps being the standard 3G speed across UK, bringing it down to just 384 Kbps seemed to be excessive and beyond the moderate reduction that customers deserved.
ASA added that customers who enjoyed speeds up to 6.1 Mbps would see a noticeable drop in speed once the restriction was applied and it did not amount to unlimited data like Virgin Media claimed. Hence, the advert was misleading.
This comes as news given Virgin Media's advert did inform the customers about the restriction before they subscribed to the specific plan. However, ASA's banning of the advert seems to be based on a principle. Had the restriction kept the speed at 2-3 Mbps, Virgin Media would have probably escaped punishment.
The verdict is sure to attract the attention of major mobile network providers in UK who have similar restrictions in place on mobile data usage. We assume they will be most interested in knowing what would constitute a moderate restriction that ASA seems to enforce.