Ad Watchdog Once Again Asks Comcast To Stop Boasting About Having Fastest Internet & In-Home WiFi

Last summer, an independent ad industry watchdog group recommended that Comcast put an end to questionable claims that it offers the “fastest internet in America” and the “fastest in-home WiFi,” but the ever-stubborn Comcast refused to abide by that decision and appealed… only to once again be told to just give it up already.

Verizon — who has also previously been asked to rethink it’s boasting about top speeds — first complained about Comcast’s ads to the National Advertising Division, an investigative unit of the ad industry’s system of self-regulation.

Comcast began claiming it offered “America’s Fastest Internet” after Ookla’s Speedtest determined that the company was providing the speediest broadband service in 2015.

However, the Speedtest award did not take into account the full range of speed tiers offered by Comcast. Instead, it determined the nation’s fastest internet provider by looking at only the top 10% of download speeds measured by the Speedtest app. The site even cautioned at the time that these fastest connections often represented customers who are “generally paying a bit more for this higher performance service.” Additionally, there were smaller providers in individual markets whose speeds were much faster than Comcast’s top offerings.

The NAD did not conclude that Comcast was misleading consumers about the “fastest in-home WiFi,” but felt at the time that the company could be a lot more transparent about the conditions required to achieve those top speeds.

Comcast appealed the NAD’s ruling to the National Advertising Review Board, which again concluded that when a company claims, without further qualification, to have the “fastest” internet, it would be reasonable to infer that this applies to all tiers of service provided by that company. Additionally, such a claim could be misconstrued to imply that both Comcast’s upstream and downstream speeds are the fastest.

The NARB panel said that for Comcast to use the Ookla Speedtest data in its ads, it should me more transparent that the award represents only a small sample of high-speed users, avoids making a claim that these results prove that Comcast’s speeds are any better than its competition, and that it only represents download speeds.

Regarding the “fastest in-home WiFi” claim, the NARB panel cautioned that such boasts should be limited your in-home WiFi can only access the internet as quickly as the data coming from the internet service provider.

“[F]aster router performance doesn’t necessarily mean faster wireless access to the internet,” explains NARB in a statement. “The panel found that Comcast did not provide a reasonable basis for the messages reasonably conveyed by the challenged ‘fastest in-home WiFI’ claims and recommended Comcast discontinue the claims.”

Comcast, which isn’t legally obliged to listen to the panel, still reluctantly agreed to comply with the recommendation.

“Comcast will take NARB’s recommendations into account in developing future advertisements, and expects NAD and NARB will hold all advertisers to the same standards when making similar claims,” the company said in its response.

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