In the latest barrage from a long-running war between Comcast and Verizon over dishonest Internet service ads, the Better Business Bureau's National Advertising Division says it has recommended that rival Comcast "discontinue certain claims for the company’s Xfinity" video service, including claims that Xfinity "delivers the fastest internet in America,” or the “fastest, most reliable in-home WiFi.” Comcast plans to appeal, the division added.
Internet connection speeds "are of increasing importance to consumers and a key selling point for advertisers," the division noted. Verizon challenged Comcast Xfinity's claims to:
1) "Deliver America's fastest Internet according to 60 million consumer tests run at Speedtest.net," through an app from Oopla that promises to "crowdsource" user data.
But "instead of relying on an aggregation of crowdsourced data on download and upload speeds, Ookla based its award on the top 10 percent of each [internet service provider's] Speedtest download results" -- which the division found "wasn’t a good fit" for Comcast's claims of delivering "superior speed" for all customers."
2) Deliver "the fastest, most reliable in-home WiFi" and "fastest in-home WiFi speed (of) 725 Mbps," beating a claimed FiOS speed of 610, all supposedly supported by a "November 2014 study by Allion Test Labs, Inc.”
The division "recommended that Comcast discontinue" these claims, or at least modify them "to make clear that only users of 5GHz (or dual) band devices would experience the superior performance claimed."
3) Give customers "Unsurpassed HD picture quality,” backed by a "November 2012 study by Marketing Systems Group.” When challenged, Comcast "voluntarily discontinued" claims that Xfinity's pictures were clearer than Verizon's.
4) In a brochure mailed to potential customers, Comcast claimed its rival, Verizon, was "eliminating its traditional home phone service in certain markets." That claim should be "discontinued" or at least "modified to accurately communicate" that Verizon is updating, "rather than eliminating, phone service."
The division said Comcast "disagrees with NAD’s decision and is appealing” to the National Advertising Review Board.
In 2012 the division also recommended Comcast "discontinue unqualified claims that Xfinity Internet service is the 'fastest in the nation.'" At that time Comcast said it would "take NAD's recommendations into account" in its ads.
After Comcast complained, the division in 2014 told Verizon to "modify certain advertising claims for the company's FiOS internet and television service." After another Comcast complaint and follow-on appeal, the review board agreed and urged Verizon to qualify its high-speed Internet claims.