It’s tough to prove that you’re absolutely, categorically the best everywhere at all times.
Comcast this week was touting a PC Magazine report that found the U.S.’s biggest cable operator delivered the fastest overall average download speed (18.64 Mbps) out of the ISPs the publication evaluated based on data compiled by Speedtest.net.
But a day after the PCMag story hit, the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus — after a complaint by Verizon Communications — released a finding that Comcast could not support its claim that it provides the “fastest Internet available,” along with other claims about HD, voice clarity and customer service (see Ad Group Tells Comcast To Cease HD Quality, Phone And Internet Claims).
Here’s the story: Comcast, in its statement to the NAD, said that because Verizon’s FiOS is offered only in a limited portion of the telco’s overall footprint, Comcast in fact offers consumers the fastest Internet speeds in about 86% of the cable operator’s nationwide footprint that overlaps with Verizon.
According to Comcast, based on a review of publicly available census block tracking data, FiOS is available to only 7.1 million households, or 13.6% of the 52 million homes to which Comcast offers Internet service.
But strictly speaking, Verizon’s FiOS Internet 150 Mbps downstream tier — economically unattractive though it may be — beats Comcast’s top residential broadband offering of 105 Mbps.
The NAD wasn’t moved by Comcast’s argument that the cable operator “does not claim that it is the fastest Internet service available; it claims that it is the fastest Internet service available for the most homes (or the fastest Internet to more homes than anyone).”
NAD said it was “concerned that the claim ‘fastest Internet to more homes than anyone’ was confusing, if not misleading.” It determined consumers could reasonably understand the claim to mean that Comcast offers the “fastest Internet” anywhere and that it offers it to more homes than any other provider.
“Consumers viewing the claim may reasonably interpret the claim to mean ‘fastest Internet’ in the area where they are purchasing the service, a claim which is not supported in those areas where Verizon FiOS is available,” the NAD said, recommending that the MSO discontinue that particular claim in national ads and in ads in regions where FiOS is available.
In its official statement, Comcast said: “Comcast disagrees that there is any reasonable likelihood of consumer confusion with respect to the narrowly tailored picture quality, call clarity, and Internet speed claims at issue in this proceeding, but will take NAD’s concerns and recommendations into consideration in developing new advertisements based on its robust substantiation.”
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