NAD Challenges Comcast’s ‘Fastest Internet,’ WiFi Advertising Claims

Comcast will appeal recommended changes that stem from complaint lodged by Verizon (Updated)
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The National Advertising Division announced that it is recommending that Comcast discontinue certain claims made in advertising that the MSO “delivers the fastest Internet in America” and the “fastest, most-reliable in-home WiFi,” as it appears in certain contexts in print and TV ads.

NAD, a division administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus, said the ad claims made by  Comcast were challenged by broadband and TV rival Verizon Communications.

Comcast disagreed with the NAD’s decision and is appealing the complaint to the National Advertising Review Board, NAD said.

Update: Comcast also responded with this statement: "We are disappointed with NAD’s decision and are appealing it. The fact is just last week Ookla announced its “Speedtest Award” and, for the second year in a row, named Xfinity the provider with “America’s fastest Internet."  Per that report, Comcast was identified as the U.S. ISP with the fastest download speeds, while Verizon was tops in upload speeds. 

NAD said the following claims were representative of the basis of the inquiry:

- “XFINITY from Comcast delivers America’s fastest Internet according to 60 million consumer tests run at Speedtest.net. Faster than the competition. FiOS just can’t keep up.” “Based on 2015 Speedtest.net testing. Speedtest.net/awards/us. Actual speeds vary.”

-“XFINITY Internet delivers the fastest, most reliable in-home WiFi … WiFi claim based on November 2014 study by Allion Test Labs, Inc.”

-XFINITY “Fastest in-home WiFi speed 725 Mbps” … “WiFi claim based on November 2014 study by Allion Test Labs, Inc.”

-FIOS “in-home WiFi speed  . . . 610 Mbps” … “WiFi claim based on November 2014 study by Allion Test Labs, Inc.”

-“Unsurpassed HD picture quality” … “HD picture quality claim based on November 2012 study by Marketing Systems Group.”

-Verizon is “eliminating its traditional home phone service in certain markets.”

-“Verizon is discontinuing its copper-wire based home phone service.”

“At issue in this case is whether there is a good fit between Comcast’s unqualified fastest internet speed claim and its supporting evidence: crowd-sourced data (and an “award” given by the third party which collected that data),” NAD said.

On that note, NAD said it determined that Comcast’s reliance on Ookla’s speed test and its methodology “wasn’t a good fit for the purposes of substantiating Comcast’s overall superior speed performance claims.

Additionally, NAD said that Comcast offers a range of speeds tiers at different prices, “Comcast’s advertising does not limit its claims to a particular tier.”

As for WiFi speeds, NAD said Comcast provided a “reasonable basis” for those claims, but recommended that Comcast “expressly modify future claims to make clear that only users of 5GHz (or dual) band devices would experience the superior performance claimed.”

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