AT&T Loses 'Best Network' 5G Ad Appeal

AT&T's logo

The National Advertising Review Board (NARB) has recommended that AT&T "clearly and conspicuously" disclose to  consumers that it has a material connection to Global Wireless Services (GWS) when it makes a "best network" advertising claim based on GWS testing.

It also said AT&T should either stop making the claim that it is "building 5G on America's best network," or clarify that the network is referring to is its 4G network.

AT&T agreed to comply with the decision.

The board is the appellate body for BBB National Programs, which resolves disputes over ad claims, though its decisions are not binding.

Verizon had challenged the AT&T claims before the National Advertising Division, which decided in Verizon's favor, leading to AT&T's appeal. AT&T has also challenged some of Verizon's 5G claims as the companies battle for 5G hearts and minds.

Also Read: Verizon Will Drop Certified 5G Ad Claims

"NARB agreed with NAD, finding that the relationship between AT&T and GWS could be material to consumers in evaluating AT&T’s 'Best Network' claim because AT&T in effect funds the GWS OneScore analysis each year," said the board. "The panel also agreed that there are aspects of the OneScore analysis that are subjective in nature, or that require the exercise of judgment, and accordingly the OneScore results could have been affected by the relationship."

The NARB panel said that it was not saying the OneScore results were improper, "only that the relationship could be material to consumers in evaluating AT&T’s best network claim."

Also Read: NAD Asks Comcast to Modify Ads

As to the claim about building 5G on America's Best Network, the panel said that the "building on" part was OK since it was supported by AT&T 4G upgrades, but that the "America's Best Network" part could be misunderstood as a reference to the 5G.

AT&T said it disagreed with some of the panel's conclusions but will comply with the decision.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.