ACCC lectures TV makers over Wi-Fi confusion

'WiFi Ready' markings not clear enough for consumers

Some consumers have been confused by manufacturers' use of 'WiFi Ready' in promoting their televisions and Blu-ray players.
Some consumers have been confused by manufacturers' use of 'WiFi Ready' in promoting their televisions and Blu-ray players.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has 'engaged in discussions' with Samsung, Sony, LG, Panasonic and Sharp over the companies' use of confusing terms surrounding Wi-Fi in Smart TVs and Blu-ray players.

The majority of televisions and Blu-ray players sold today either have integrated Wi-Fi wireless networking or can enable wireless networking through the use of an optional USB Wi-Fi adapter.

Where most high-end products have Wi-Fi built-in, less expensive televisions and disc players have traditionally been marked as 'Wi-Fi Ready' or 'Wireless LAN Ready', referring to their expanded feature-set once a USB Wi-Fi adapter has been purchased and plugged in.

The 'Ready' refers to the TV's software and hardware compatibility with an optional Wi-Fi adapter, rather than the adapter being built-in. Confusion also arises from the different terms used by different manufacturers.

A customer complained to the ACCC after purchasing a television promoted as 'Wi-Fi Ready', and finding that this did not mean that wireless networking was integrated. He was told by the TV's manufacturer that he would have to purchase the optional Wi-Fi adapter at a cost of $100 to $120.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims said in a statement that the discussions would result in clearer promotion and less confusion for customers: "Consumers should be confident that any claim of 'WiFi Ready' or 'Wireless LAN Ready' means exactly that, unless clearly stated that an additional adaptor is required.

While some televisions, known as 'Smart TVs', and Blu Ray players are capable of accessing the internet wirelessly, many other models claim to be 'WiFi Ready' or 'Wireless LAN Ready' when in fact an extra WiFi adaptor or 'dongle' is required. WiFi is a technology that allows electronic devices to exchange data wirelessly over a computer network, including high speed internet connections.

The ACCC considered that the term 'Ready', when used in promoting audiovisual products, is widely understood by consumers to mean the product is capable of accessing WiFi, without the need to purchase any further device.”

From now on, the manufacturers mentioned will either remove references to ‘WiFi Ready’ or ‘Wireless LAN ready’ from their websites and promotional material, or prominently include statements like 'USB Wireless LAN adaptor required', 'WiFi Capable with Optional Adaptor' or 'Wireless LAN Adaptor required, sold separately' alongside these references.

Have you been caught out by confusing terminology and jargon when buying a TV or home entertainment product? Let us know in the comments below.

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