Comcast asked by Ad Review Board to stop making ‘fastest’ internet and Wi-Fi claims

Comcast Center headquarters in Philadelphia. Image: Comcast
The NARB examined the Comcast advertising after Verizon complained about it. 

The National Advertising Review Board (NARB) has asked Comcast to stop claiming that it “delivers the fastest internet in America” and the “fastest in-home Wi-Fi.”

Comcast has said that it disagrees with the ad-industry’s self-regulating body’s decision, but will comply with it. The NARB examined the Comcast advertising after Verizon complained about it. 

Comcast made the claims in its ads based on data released by Ookla. The third-party research firm compared the performance on its free website of Xfinity and Verizon FiOS internet users based on 60 million tests. But according to the NARB, the Xfinity customers had higher download tiers

“The evidence in the record did not demonstrate that the consumers constituted a representative sample of Xfinity or Verizon FiOS subscribers, and Ookla’s data did not provide any indication as to which ISP more consistently delivers the highest promised download speeds in any speed tier,” NARB said in a statement. 

“Overall, the panel found that the Ookla data did not provide a reasonable basis for the internet speed superiority claims made in the challenged Comcast advertisements,” NARB added. “The panel recommended that Comcast discontinue the challenged ‘America’s fastest internet’ claims.

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As for Comcast’s Wi-Fi claims, the panel determined that the claims “reasonably conveyed a message that Xfinity offers the fastest available wireless access to the internet, although the claims were based on tests that only established faster router performance.”

However, “the panel noted that because access to the internet is primarily dictated by speed of the ISP’s internet connection and dependent in large part on the internet speed tier purchased by the consumer, faster router performance doesn’t necessarily mean faster wireless access to the internet. The panel found that Comcast did not provide a reasonable basis for the messages reasonably conveyed by the challenged ‘fastest in-home Wi-Fi’ claims and recommended Comcast discontinue the claims.”

The NARB and the National Advertising Division are administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus, and have, of course, regularly stepped on matters relating to telecom companies and their claims to consumers. 

“Comcast will take NARB’s recommendations into account in developing future advertisements, and expects NAD and NARB will hold all advertisers to the same standards when making similar claims,” Comcast said in a statement.