ASA upholds complaint over “interference free” microwave claim
Written by: Sam Fenwick | Published:

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint made by Dundastech over Purdicom’s claim that the Siklu millimetre wave technology it supplies enables “interference free” data transmission.

The issue arose in October 2017, when Purdicom posted on LinkedIn saying that “Siklu MM Wave technology enables interference free high speed network connectivity between an unlimited number of buildings”, while the solutions page of its website stated: “Purdicom offers the exclusive use of 32GHz to its customers proving interference free spectrum for high speed backhaul with quicker and cheaper licenses” and that “By using microwave wireless capacity is increased up to Gbps, data transmission will be interference free”.

Dundastech, which understood that it was not possible to provide interference free radio, challenged whether these claims that Purdicom offered “interference free” radio frequencies were misleading and could be substantiated.

According to the ASA ruling, Purdicom stated that it did not consider that interference was defined as any signal that could be perceived by a receiver. It acknowledged that although some radio frequency signals operating within the vicinity of the radio may be perceived as interference, it was only when the Signal Interference Ratio (SIR) was below a certain level that the radio was being subjected to interference. It stated that the 32GHz frequency spectrum used by its technology underwent the regulatory standards defined by Ofcom and the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006 (the Act). It also stated that the Act required that no radio equipment was installed or used in the UK except under the authority of a license.

Purdicom added that all licenses underwent desktop analysis which detailed the interference limits for the license and the testing that the equipment had to undergo. It stated that it could therefore substantiate the claims.

However, while the ASA noted these points, it ruled that the claim “interference free radio” had not been substantiated, and was therefore misleading. In its ruling, it said that it considered that consumers would understand “interference free” to mean that the equipment would not be subject to interference when it was being used and that it also considered that consumers would understand “interference” in that context to mean any signal that appeared to interfere with the output.

“We understood from Ofcom that while Purdicom’s equipment may have been immune to signals below a certain level, all equipment was susceptible to certain types of signal which could cause interference and that there were many reasons for interference including natural atmospheric conditions.

“Because we understood that Purdicom’s technology may be subjected to signals that would be perceived by consumers as interference, and we had not seen evidence that the technology would be immune to such signals, we concluded that the claim “interference free radio” had not been substantiated, and was therefore misleading.”

It ruled that the advert breached AP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising) and 3.7 (Substantiation) and that the advert must not appear again in its current form. The ASA also told Purdicom Ltd not to claim that it was able to provide “interference free radio.”

The full statement from the ASA can be found here

"The precedent set by this ruling is going to be a game changer when it comes to how companies market their microwave equipment or services," said John Dundas, consultant and director at Dundastech Ltd. "They may have to revise the information that is on their websites, social media, sales material and case studies. One of the main companies who manufacture this equipment makes a very big point of it being ‘interference free’ and that filters down to their suppliers who then say the same thing."

Land Mobile contacted Purdicom for comment on this issue but has not received a response.

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