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Ad Group Tells Comcast To Cease HD Quality, Phone And Internet Claims

Following a complaint by Verizon, the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus recommended that Comcast change or discontinue claims that its Xfinity services provide the "best HD picture quality," deliver the "fastest Internet available" and are "#1 in call clarity."

Verizon, which sells competing services under the FiOS brand, challenged Comcast's claims relating to HD picture quality, telephone call clarity, Internet speed and customer service.

Comcast, in a statement, said it "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."

Among Comcast's claims reviewed by the NAD, a self-regulatory industry advertising group, were that Comcast offers the "best HD Picture quality available"; that the operator is "rated #1 in call clarity"; and that Xfinity has the "fastest Internet available."

With respect to the HD picture quality claims, Comcast cited head-to-head testing by Frank N. Magid Associates.

But the NAD said the Magid studies demonstrated, at most, that Comcast's overall HD picture quality was "at parity with Verizon FiOS" and thus was not sufficient to support a claim that the cable operator's picture quality was superior to Verizon FiOS.

NAD determined that Comcast did not support its "fastest Internet" claim. The cable operator also had claimed Verizon does not offer 24/7 live customer service; NAD noted that Comcast voluntarily discontinued that claim in TV advertising and recommended it discontinue the claim on its website and in other advertising.

On the call clarity claim, NAD found that Comcast provided a reasonable basis for making a comparative claim on the basis of comparative testing using the results of a recent study that evaluated mean opinion scores. However, because the testing did not compare Comcast with Verizon FiOS, NAD recommended that its "#1" or "best" call clarity claim be discontinued or appropriately limited to the services tested.

In a statement, Verizon said, "In the case of Comcast, their manner of promoting its Xfinity service and disparaging Verizon FiOS was not only misleading, but plain false. We're gratified of the NAD decision that will help set the record straight in terms of how Comcast describes its services and communicates about Verizon's FiOS services."