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A BT advertisement starring Deadpool actor Ryan Reynolds has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after Virgin Media complained.

The advert for BT Infinity said it now offers speeds of "up to 52Mbps - the fastest fibre speeds as standard" and the "fastest speeds vs standard entry-level fibre products of major broadband providers".

Virgin Media subsequently complained to the ASA, arguing the ads misleadingly suggested BT's up to 52Mbps service was the fastest maximum speed for a lowest-priced tier available in the UK.

BT stated that it had tried to be clear that it was comparing its standard entry-level up to 52Mbps broadband service with the advertised headline speeds of major broadband providers’ standard entry-level broadband; specifically Sky Fibre, TalkTalk and Plusnet at up to 38Mbps and Virgin at up to 50 Mbps. 

This, it said, was stated on its website and in all press advertising, although it offered to amend its ads to make the basis of the comparison clearer and more prominently qualified.

Nevertheless, the ASA has opted to rule in Virgin Media's favour, saying: "We noted that the major broadband providers against whom BT had compared their service all advertised a slower maximum speed for their cheapest option. 

"However, we understood that there were other providers on the market whose cheapest (or only) service options advertised faster maximum speeds than 52 Mbps, in some cases significantly so."

The ASA said BT had therefore not "adequately substantiated" its "fastest fibre speeds as standard" claim.

This, it stated, meant the ads were misleading and breached the ASA's regulations.

BT has been told not to run the offending ads in their current form again and make the basis of any comparisons much clearer in future promotional material.

Responding to the decision, a BT spokesman said the complaint was upheld on a "minor technicality relating to the exclusion of niche broadband providers whose products are only available on a limited basis in specific geographical locations, and not to the vast majority of the population (like BT Infinity)".

The company insisted that no other major provider offers their customers a faster fibre speed as standard, stressing that "on this point, the ASA agreed with BT".

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