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Ad board: Comcast can no longer claim to have “fastest internet in America”

Why it matters to you

While companies have long relied on hyperbole to win business, Comcast is being told to halt its claim that it provides the fastest internet in America.

Questionable advertising is about to come with some consequences, especially in the world of internet speeds.

According to a recent ruling from the National Advertising Review Board, Comcast can no longer purport to deliver “the fastest internet in America” or the “fastest in-home Wi-Fi” because the company does not have sufficient evidence to substantiate these claims. The decision was handed down after Comcast competitor Verizon cried foul on these marketing tactics. And while Comcast has said that it will comply with the board’s decision, it insists that it has done nothing wrong by relying on crowdsourced speed test data from Ookla as evidence for its assertions.

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Although the board did not question the accuracy of Ookla data, it ultimately determined that it was “not a good fit for an overall claim that an ISP delivers ‘America’s fastest Internet.'” The board also pointed out that “Ookla’s data showed only that Xfinity consumers who took advantage of the free tests offered on the Speedtest.net website subscribed to tiers of service with higher download speeds than Verizon FiOS consumers who took advantage of the tests.”

In fact, the board pointed out that Comcast had sliced and diced the data to their benefit — upon closer inspection of Ookla’s findings, the top 10 percent of Verizon FiOS customers actually enjoyed higher upload speeds than the top 10 percent of Comcast customers. While Comcast is welcome to continue using Ookla studies in their ads, the board has asked that the company “avoids any statement or implication that the data demonstrates that Xfinity provides faster Internet speeds than competing ISPs.” It concluded that 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.'”

It doesn’t look as though Comcast will put up too much of a fight, as the company said in a statement that “Comcast agrees to comply with NARB’s decision.” Furthermore, the internet provider added, “Comcast is gratified by NARB’s determination that Ookla’s crowdsourced data, which found that, based on 60 million speed test results, the top 10 percent of Comcast consumers had download speeds faster than the top 10 percent of Verizon FiOS consumers, can be used in Comcast’s advertising.”