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Cell C ordered to withdraw ‘4Gs’ campaign

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) on Thursday ruled that Cell C’s new 4Gs campaign is “dishonest” and “misleading” and must be withdrawn with “immediate effect”.

Cell C, a mobile operator in South Africa, recently launched what is now seen to be the fastest and cheapest mobile broadband in the country, a step up from current 3G offerings by competitors MTN and Vodacom.

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However it is not technically 4G, but a souped-up form of 3G, offering “speeds of up to 4G”.

Corne Koch of the ASA admitted that Cell C had made some attempts via their website to explain that the 4Gs campaign actually meant “4 Great Speed” and “4 Great Service”.

Koch went on to explain that “advertising on one medium cannot be relied on to clear up ambiguity created in another”.

The ruling goes on to say: “The Directorate further rejected substantiation provided for the claims; ‘They are supposedly building the first 4GS network in the Southern Hemisphere’ and ‘Cell C are building a 4GS network that is apparently the most advanced in the Southern Hemisphere’.”

The ASA ruling comes in the wake of complaints lodged by Cell C’s two main rivals, MTN and Vodacom, alleging the cellular operator was misleading consumers with their claims of having built a 4G network.

Vodacom CEO Pieter Uys directly commented on the issue saying “there is an urban legend doing the rounds that there is a 4G network being built”.

The controversy around what constitutes real 4G is not isolated to South Africa, with international operators incorrectly claiming to be running 4G networks. According to Wikipedia, technically it would seem that the HSPA 900+ network which Cell C is running, is more like a “3.75G” network — a better form of most 3G offerings available today.

  • Full ASA ruling and complaints can be found here
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