National Advertising Division Recommends Charter Modify or Discontinue Certain Comparative Claims for Spectrum Home Internet Service
New York, NY – November 28, 2023 – In a challenge brought by T-Mobile US, Inc., the National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs recommended that Charter Communications Inc. modify or discontinue certain claims for its Spectrum home internet service including those that distinguish Spectrum from T-Mobile’s wireless home internet services (T-Mobile 5G Home Internet and T-Mobile Internet Lite), collectively T-HINT.
T-HINT uses T-Mobile’s wireless network. Spectrum provides internet access via a hybrid fiber/coaxial network that physically connects to a consumer’s home.
“Game Time” Commercial
NAD determined that one reasonable takeaway from Charter’s “Game Time” commercial is that T-Mobile’s Home Internet is so glitchy and spotty that it is unusable for streaming live basketball games at all times of the day.
As there was no evidence that T-Mobile home internet users are unable to stream a basketball game, even during times of congestion, NAD recommended that Charter:
- Discontinue the express claims that T-HINT provides “spotty service” and is “glitchy.”
- Modify its “Game Time” commercial to avoid conveying the message that T-Mobile home internet is unusable and that users need to switch to Spectrum for a reliable streaming experience.
However, NAD determined that the claim “Spectrum.com/noglitch” is supported by evidence that typical Spectrum internet users will not experience glitches.
“Move Out” Commercial
NAD determined that Charter’s “Move Out” commercial does not limit the message that T-Mobile home internet can be too slow for five people in one household to use simultaneously for typical internet functions at peak times. Because the commercial does not limit this message in this way, as the evidence supports, NAD recommended that Charter:
- Modify its “Move Out” commercial to limit the message to T-Mobile home internet can be too slow for five people to use simultaneously during peak times.
- Modify the express claims “There’s not enough speed for all of us” and “T-Mobile Home Internet slows down when you need it most” to make it clear that these claims refer to peak times.
Home Internet Facts Webpage
T-Mobile challenged four main parts of Charter’s Home Internet Facts webpage. After reviewing each of the challenged claims, NAD recommended that Charter:
- Discontinue its “Lag that Makes Gamers Rage” banner and modify the “Buffering Will Test Your Patience” banner to clearly and conspicuously disclose, in close proximity to the banner, that the claim is limited to the peak congestion hours of 7:00 pm-11:00 pm and that buffering may happen, not that it will happen.
- Revise its Home Internet Facts page to make it clear that the comparison is between T-Mobile home internet or wireless home internet and not 5G home internet.
- Modify the Speed Reliability Chart that reports Ookla data to avoid conveying a misleading message about comparative speed reliability.
- Modify its Home Internet Facts webpage to avoid conveying the message that at peak times with T-Mobile home internet, not 5G home internet, users cannot stream in 4K or stream uninterrupted on multiple devices and limit its advertising to better fit the support provided.
Other Website Claims
Regarding the Spectrum webpage titled “Compare Internet Speeds,” NAD determined that the comparison of internet speed goes beyond just describing differences between the internet services and conveys a message about T-Mobile’s reputation for being slow and unreliable during peak times.
Since this message was not supported by the evidence, NAD recommended that Charter:
- Discontinue the express claim “Whereas 5G Home Internet is known for slow speeds during peak times and unreliable connections.”
- Avoid conveying the message that T-Mobile home internet has a reputation for slow speeds and unreliable connections during peak times.
NAD found that Charter’s claim expressly stating that wireless home internet “fails to meet the demands of today’s average consumer usage” reasonably conveys the message that T-Mobile home internet cannot be used generally during peak times. Because the evidence in the record does not support this message, NAD recommended that Charter:
- Discontinue the claim that T-Mobile home internet “…fails to meet the demands of today’s average consumer usage.”
- Avoid conveying the message that T-Mobile home internet is not sufficient for the average consumer’s internet needs.
NAD also recommended Charter discontinue the claim “What’s worse, ‘5G’ Home Internet customers don’t always get the ‘5G’ network they’ve been promised and may end up surfing the web on a slower, 4G LTE network.”
NAD further found that the paragraph titled “High-Speed Internet for Rural Areas” along with the statement “while Fixed Wireless Internet has been available in rural areas for many years ‘5G’ networks are limited to select metro areas, so wireless broadband internet service has been restricted to slower 2G, 3G, and 4G networks,” conveys the message that wireless 5G fixed broadband can only be accessed in select metro areas and not in any rural areas.
Since there is nothing in the record to support this message, NAD recommended that Charter modify the “High-Speed Internet for Rural Areas” portion of its website to avoid conveying the message that T-Mobile 5G home internet is not available in rural areas.
In its advertiser statement, Charter stated that it “will comply with NAD’s recommendations and appreciates NAD’s diligence in reviewing the issues raised in this challenge.” Charter further stated that it “welcomes NAD’s recognition of Charter’s right – with certain modifications – to distinguish its internet service from T-Mobile’s by touting product differences that provide meaningful benefits to consumers.”
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