Ad Group OKs FiOS's Fiber Claims Over Time Warner Cable Objections

Verizon Communications has been cleared to keep claiming FiOS uses "100% fiber optics" by the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus -- another victory for the telco in its fight to distinguish the fiber-to-the-home network and services from cable's hybrid fiber-coaxial networks.

The NAD sided with Verizon in a decision issued Monday, June 7, after Time Warner Cable filed a complaint about the phone company's ads. The group found Verizon's advertising claims for FiOS were substantiated, including that the service uses "undiluted" and "pure fiber optics," and delivers "100% fiber optic picture and sound."

Time Warner Cable had argued that Verizon's advertising falsely implies that the telco runs fiber optics not just to the side a subscriber's home or business, but all the way to a customer's TV or computer. The MSO noted that Verizon delivers TV services using RF electrical signals through a cable set-top box, in exactly the same way Time Warner Cable does.

Last month, the NAD recommended that TWC and Cox Communications stop describing their HFC networks as "fiber optic networks" in their marketing. Time Warner Cable appealed the decision; Cox said it would take the recommendations into consideration in future advertising.

In this week's decision, NAD "put itself in the shoes of a reasonable consumer" to assess the competing claims and found that consumers would be unlikely to understand the advertiser's "100%" and "pure" claims as meaning that the fiber optics extend all the way to every device inside a consumer's home, the group said.

NAD noted that many of the FiOS ads that Time Warner Cable challenged specify that offers fiber optics "'straight to your home,' rather than ‘through' or ‘within' the home."

As for Time Warner Cable's contention that "100% fiber optic TV, Internet, and phone" products don't exist, NAD determined that consumers "would reasonably understand these advertisements the same way as they understand claims that Verizon FiOS uses ‘100%' or ‘pure' or ‘undiluted' fiber optics: that the entirety of the FiOS network is comprised of fiber optics."

Time Warner Cable declined to comment on the decision.

Verizon spokesman Jim Smith said in a statement, "Verizon's fiber to the premises network is materially distinct from the hybrid network operated by Time Warner. ... We are pleased with the decision by the National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau that will help set the record straight about Verizon's 100 percent fiber optic network, and prevent Time Warner from competing for customers through means of deception. The NAD decision will allow Verizon to keep advertising this core differentiator of a 100 percent fiber optic network to the marketplace."