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Ad Review Board: Comcast Broadband Ads Are ‘Problematic’

15 Feb, 2017 By: Doug McPherson

NEW YORK – The National Advertising Review Board (NARB), a leading industry watchdog, told Comcast to stop boasting that it offers the “fastest in-home Wi-Fi.”

The NARB agreed to investigate the claims after a request from Verizon. Comcast ads contained statements like “FiOS just can’t keep up,” “Faster than the competition,” “Fastest in-home Wi-Fi speed,” and “XFINITY from Comcast delivers America’s fastest Internet according to 60 million consumer tests run at”

The NARB says the ads are problematic because the claim that Xfinity was “America’s fastest internet” conveys that Xfinity is faster for all tiers of service.

Comcast’s based its claims on crowdsourced data from metrics company Ookla’s, which said, in 2015, that XFINITY offered the fastest Internet service.

But the NARB says Ookla’s methods didn’t support Comcast’s boasts. “The Ookla data is not a good fit for an overall claim that an ISP delivers ‘America’s fastest internet’“ the NARB wrote.

The NARB adds that Ookla’s data came from people who took the free test on – not necessarily a representative sample of consumers.

“While the panel recognizes that download speeds are generally considered to be more important to consumers than upload speeds, upload speeds affect the overall consumer internet experience and general claims about internet speed will reasonably be interpreted as including both download and upload speeds unless the claim clearly communicates otherwise,” the NARB wrote.

The watchdog also found fault with Comcast ads bragging that it offered the fastest Wi-Fi service. Those claims were based on tests showing that Comcast’s routers could perform faster on the 5 GHz band that Verizon’s router, according to the NARB.

But “faster router performance does not necessarily mean faster wireless access to the internet,” the NARB wrote, adding that Web access “is primarily dictated by speed of the ISP’s internet connection.”

Comcast has said that it disagrees with the self-regulating body’s decision, but will comply with it.

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