ComCom lays 27 charges against Vodafone for misleading consumers over FibreX broadband
By Tina Morrison
April 13 (BusinessDesk) - The Commerce Commission has laid 27 charges against Vodafone New Zealand for false and misleading conduct, alleging the telecommunications company misled consumers into thinking its FibreX product was a full fibre-optic broadband service like those delivered over the government-subsidised ultra-fast broadband network.
The charges were filed in the Auckland District Court and relate to conduct in the Wellington, Christchurch and Kapiti regions where FibreX is offered, between Oct. 26, 2016 and March 28, 2018, the regulator said in a statement. The matter will be called in the Auckland District Court for the first time on May 22.
"The commission alleges that by naming its broadband service 'FibreX', along with its advertising of FibreX on billboards, radio, in-store, online and in direct-marketing, Vodafone misled consumers into thinking that FibreX was a full fibre-optic broadband service (like those services delivered over the government-subsidised ultrafast broadband network), when it is not," the Commerce Commission said. "The commission also alleges that Vodafone’s website misled consumers about the options of broadband services (including full fibre-optic broadband) available at their addresses."
FibreX is a broadband service delivered over Vodafone’s hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) network. The HFC network uses both fibre-optic and copper cabling to deliver broadband to consumers’ homes.
By comparison, full fibre-optic broadband services are delivered over the government-subsidised ultra-fast broadband network which only uses fibre-optic cabling to deliver broadband to consumers’ homes.
Last year, the regulator warned MyRepublic, Two Degrees Mobile, Spark New Zealand and Vodafone about conduct it considered breached the Fair Trading Act, saying the telecommunications sector generated a high number of customer complaints despite efforts to improve compliance by the commission. Vodafone's warning related to a 12-month promotion.