AT&T can keep ‘best possible’ claims for Wi-Fi, home internet

NAD decided AT&T's message touted improvements over its own service, not that it was better than internet service providers. (Getty Images)

Comcast was unsuccessful in challenging AT&T’s claims that it provides the “best possible” Wi-Fi and other home internet service to its customers.

The National Advertising Division (NAD), part of the BBB National Programs, determined evidence supported the claims, mentioned in two blog posts on AT&T’s website, that AT&T wasn’t sending the message to customers that its service is better than that of other internet providers like Comcast.

Specifically, Comcast was challenging AT&T’s language of the “best possible Wi-Fi experience,” “best possible in-home connections,” and “best possible home internet experience.”

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Comcast didn’t think there wasn’t evidence to support AT&T’s claim of superior service.

However, after NAD’s review, it decided that the posts clearly sent the message that AT&T was touting improvements over its own service, including how it had optimized Wi-Fi equipment installations.

RELATED: AT&T to stop using ‘5G Evolution’ in ads after unsuccessful appeal

NAD pointed out that one post discussed two new features from AT&T to enhance the home internet experience, including its app and Wi-Fi extenders.  

“Given the context of a post directed at AT&T’s service improvements, NAD did not think that a reasonable consumer reading this post would take away the message that AT&T claimed the best home internet experience compared to all other internet service providers,” NAD stated.

Unsurprisingly, AT&T was pleased with the findings and in an advertising statement said, “we strongly support the self-regulatory process, and we appreciate NAD’s careful reasoning in this matter.”

Service providers taking issue with each other’s claims is often par for the course. That’s been particularly evident recently as major carriers try to convey the respective benefits of their 5G services, which have largely focused on different spectrum bands.

RELATED: Verizon vs. T-Mobile: NAD issues mixed ruling on advertising claims

NAD’s rulings aren’t always favorable. Each AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile have been told stop or at least tweak certain 5G claims after challenges from competitors.

T-Mobile, for example, was recently told to tone down benefits of its post Sprint-merger network and stop 5G reliability claims. NAD also recently recommended Verizon make it more clear to consumers how limited its milllimeter wave 5G service is, and stop using some 5G coverage claims altogether.

When it comes to cable versus wireless, the industries have increasingly been playing in each other’s space. While AT&T also provides wireline internet, carriers including Verizon and T-Mobile have expanded their presence in the home broadband market with 4G LTE and 5G fixed wireless services for home broadband.

RELATED: T-Mobile expands 4G home internet pilot, plans 5G-based service in 2021

Cable, meanwhile, continues to move in on the wireless space, including Comcast. Like fellow cable operators Charter and Altice USA, Comcast offers mobile service under its Xfinity Mobile brand, operating as an MVNO. Comcast and Charter have MVNO agreements, with customers riding on Verizon’s network. Altice struck an MVNO deal with Sprint and customers are still using the legacy network, but expects a near-term move to T-Mobile’s network since the merger.   

RELATED: Here’s how cable MVNOs did in Q3

Cable isn’t always viewed as a major threat to carriers, but in the most recent quarter cable MVNOs continued to increase their wireless subscriber numbers. In the third quarter, Charter, Comcast and Altice collectively added 568,00 net wireless subscribers, with Charter scooping up the most at 363,000.

Overall, at the end of the third quarter Charter and Comcast together had around 4.66 million wireless subscribers. Keep in mind that figure still pales in comparison to the figures for the major wireless carriers. Still, cable appears to be maintaining momentum and continuing to carve a slice for itself in the wireless space.

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