The high-speed data wars heated up last
week, after Cablevision Systems filed suit against Verizon
Communications, claiming a telco ad blitz depicting
the cable company’s Internet speeds as much
less than advertised are false and misleading.
Verizon has blanketed the New York metropolitan
area with ads in print, radio,
TV, direct mail and
on its own website stating
that Cablevision delivers
Internet speeds at
about 59% or less of the
advertised rate during
peak hours. Its own FiOS
high-speed Internet service,
Verizon says in the ads, delivers 114% of advertised
Cablevision filed suit in U.S. District Court for the
Eastern District of New York on Dec. 6, claiming Verizon
was using data from an outdated March 2011
study (“Measuring Broadband America”), released in
August by the Federal Communications Commission.
It was the latest example of an MSO accusing Verizon
of false advertising. Earlier this year, Comcast
claimed that Verizon ads touting its FiOS TV service
as No. 1 in “HD picture quality” were false. That was
backed up by the National Advertising Division of
the Council of the Better Business Bureaus, which
on Dec. 1 asked Verizon to pull the ads.
Cablevision has a bigger ally in its most recent fi ght
with Verizon — the FCC itself. The agency has stated
publicly that Cablevision is delivering substantially
faster speeds than the Verizon ads indicate.
Cablevision claims that the research Verizon is using
was conducted before an upgrade to the MSO’s plant
that boosted performance significantly. The Bethpage,
N.Y.-based MSO said that for the month of October, its
average download speeds were more than 90% of advertised
download speeds during peak hours and were
above 100% of advertised speeds on a 24-hour basis.
Cablevision is asking the court to force Verizon to
pull the ads and for unspecified damages.
Verizon denied Cablevision’s claims, adding that
its ads are based on a months-long study by the FCC.
“Verizon will defend Cablevision’s lawsuit vigorously
to ensure that consumers continue to receive
truthful information about Cablevision’s misleading
Internet speed claims,” Verizon spokesman Bill Kula
said in a statement.