BSkyB battles rivals with broadband ads
BSkyB is set to throw down the gauntlet to rivals with an ad campaign claiming it is the only company to offer truly unlimited broadband usage.
The company is preparing the campaign after deciding to remove its fair usage policy, which caps heavy downloaders, from its top-tier Sky Broadband Max product.
It also said that because it does not "traffic shape" - regulate or cap broadband speeds at peak times to manage heavy internet usage - it can now claim to be the only UK company to offer "unlimited" broadband.
"Customers have told us that they want unlimited broadband to be exactly that, so we've acted on their feedback," a BSkyB spokesman said.
"We believe that we are now the only major broadband provider to offer truly unlimited broadband."
The BSkyB ad campaign, which will include TV, press, direct marketing and digital advertising, is timed to break later this month, with the company expecting it to spark a marketing battle with rivals.
"We believe that there is no other ISP that makes both of these promises, and we are going to start talking about this more openly in our marketing," said a BSkyB spokesman.
"This is likely to open up a new front in the highly competitive broadband marketplace, where most advertising has so far focused on either price or headline download speeds."
BSKyB said it will still maintain its "acceptable use" policy, but this relates to the type of content users download and not the amount.
The move will irritate rivals, which have fallen foul of regulations while trying to market unlimited broadband services, and potentially attract the eye of the advertising watchdog.
In July, the Advertising Standards Authority banned a print campaign by Virgin Media, which promoted broadband download times for TV shows and music, after complaints that they were inaccurate because the company "traffic shaped" at certain times.
Last year, Orange was censured by the ASA for claiming it offered "unlimited downloads" when in fact its fair usage policy meant that some internet users might be impacted by its fair usage policy.
BSkyB notched up a total of 1.6m broadband customers as at the end of June, making it the fifth biggest broadband provider in the UK.
The company has had huge success in tapping the market - the 200,000 customers it put on for the three months to the end of June accounted for almost 50% of all new sign-ups in the UK for that period.
On Friday, Goldman Sachs issued a note, based on Virgin Media chief executive Neil Berkett's speech at its Communacopia Conference, stating that it expects the "soft launch" of the company's mega-speed 50Mb service to launch in late October.
Virgin Media also said that it had upped its expectation of 40% UK coverage for the 50Mb service by the end of 2008 to 50% reach of UK homes.
By Mark Sweney
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