The Advertising Standards Authority has come down hard on UK ISP 6G Internet for misleading the UK public over the existence of 6G mobile technology.

Having investigated a complaint against 6G Internet, the UK watchdog ordered it to pull its offending advertising, and its ruling suggests that the company might now struggle to use its brand name at all. Indeed, a quick look at the ISP’s website in the wake of the ASA ruling shows that 6G Internet is now styling itself as 6Gi and has added ‘Fixed Wireless Broadband’ to its logo.

The use of cleverly-worded adverts to persuade customers they are getting something better or faster than the competition could offer is nothing new in telecoms. And in most cases the telcos get away with it. But in this instance it’s pretty clear why the ASA stepped in.

“The complainant challenged whether the company name ‘6G Internet’ misleadingly implied that a sixth-generation mobile network existed and was able to be used by consumers,” the ASA explained when it published its ruling on Wednesday.

It then shared a lengthy explanation as to why 6G Internet felt it had not breached any rules. The firm said it has been providing home broadband services under that brand name for a decade and has not had any complaints from consumers, Ofcom, DCMS or elsewhere regarding any confusion. Further, given that 6G does not yet exist and it was clearly pitching its service as a home broadband offering, 6G Internet said it did not believe customers would think it was providing a future mobile network.

But the ASA was not swayed. Essentially, it ruled that while it understood what 6G Internet offers – a fibre-based service with a fixed wireless connection into the home, and not 6G mobile – customers might not, particularly given the increasingly blurred lines between mobile technology and home broadband.

“Because consumers would interpret the name to mean that it used the next generation 6G internet technology, when that was not the case, we concluded that the name ‘6G Internet’ was likely to mislead in the context of its presentation in the ads,” the ASA said.

“The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told 6G Internet Ltd not to imply a sixth-generation mobile network existed and was able to be used by consumers,” it concluded.

Withdrawing the offending ads is a simple enough solution. But given that the ISP’s entire brand identity is tied up with 6G, the ruling was always going to have a broader impact. Hence the logo tweak and the addition of even more ‘this is not a cellular network’-type explanation to the company’s marketing materials.

But it’s questionable whether that will be enough in the coming years. 6G mobile might not exist today, but it will soon enough. And the 6Gi brand will surely cause further confusion when the time comes.

It would perhaps be wise for the company to start thinking ahead. That said, arguably the most surprising thing about this ASA decision is that 6G Internet did not see it coming when it set on its brand name back in 2013, so there’s every chance it will stick with it.

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