National Advertising Division Finds Certain Frontier Fiber Internet Services Claims Supported; Recommends Others be Modified or Discontinued
New York, NY – March 13, 2023 – Acting on a challenge brought by Charter Communications, Inc., the National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs determined that certain claims made by Frontier Communications Parent, Inc. for its Frontier Fiber internet services were supported. However, NAD recommended that other claims be modified or discontinued.
Frontier subscribers receive either DSL-based internet through copper phone wires or fiber-to-the-home internet through optical fiber lines. The Frontier internet service available to most potential Frontier subscribers in its 25-state service area is provided over Frontier’s legacy DSL-based network infrastructure, however, Frontier has been expanding its fiberoptic network and making its fiber internet service available to a growing number of potential subscribers.
Fiber Availability Claims
NAD determined that the Frontier Fiber advertisements reasonably convey a message of availability to their audience. At issue for NAD in the Charter challenge was whether this message was supported and whether any limitations on availability were adequately disclosed.
NAD found the claim “Fiber is Here,” in the context of the print mailer in which it appeared, was supported because Frontier’s direct mail advertising is targeted to consumers at physical addresses that Frontier has established can receive Frontier Fiber internet service.
However, where Frontier’s advertising was directed to consumers for whom Frontier Fiber service may not be available, NAD recommended that Frontier modify:
- Its targeted Frontier Fiber online banner advertisements delivered to IP addresses in which Frontier Fiber is more available than unavailable to clearly and conspicuously inform consumers to check availability or otherwise disclose that fiber service may not be available.
- The Frontier Fiber billboard advertisements and television commercials placed in designated marketing areas where Frontier Fiber is more available than unavailable to avoid conveying a message that Frontier’s fiber internet service is available to all consumers to whom the advertisements are directed.
- The Frontier Fiber webpages to disclose clearly and conspicuously the limited availability of Frontier Fiber to avoid conveying a message that Frontier’s fiber internet service is widely available in areas in which it is not.
100% Fiber Claim
NAD has established that product claims made in the context of general brand references without clear identification of the object of the claim may convey a message about all the products in a line. Advertisers must therefore ensure that the object of any product claim is clear to avoid conveying a broader message than intended.
In the Charter challenge, NAD considered whether the challenged Frontier Fiber claims reasonably convey a message that all Frontier internet service offerings and networks are fiber.
NAD found that the challenged claim “Better. Faster. 100% Fiber. With Fiber 2 Gig internet. . . . Frontier” in the context of a Fiber 2 Gig advertisement was supported and that a Fiber 2 Gig advertisement and certain Fiber Gig webpages did not imply that all Frontier internet services or networks are fiber or that fiber internet is the only kind of internet service that Frontier offers.
Further, NAD determined that the challenged claims “Fiber is Finally Here,” “Fiber is Here,” “Fiber Speeds are Waiting…” and “Fiber is in Reach,” in the context of the online banner, billboard, and print mail advertisements in which they appeared did not convey the message that all Frontier internet service offerings and networks are fiber.
However, NAD determined that consumers may reasonably take away a message from certain other challenged advertisements that all Frontier internet services or networks are fiber. Because this message is not supported, NAD recommended that Frontier:
- Discontinue the “100% fiberoptic internet” claim as it appears in the context of a Frontier Fiber commercial or modify the commercial to avoid conveying a message that all Frontier internet services or networks are fiber.
- Modify a Frontier Fiber webpage to avoid conveying a message that all Frontier internet services or networks are fiber.
- Discontinue the claims “Better. Faster. 100% Fiber. Frontier” and “100% fiberoptic network” as they appear in a 100% Billboard Ad and a Frontier Fiber commercial, respectively, or modify the advertisements to avoid conveying a message that all Frontier internet services or networks are fiber.
“Before and After” Commercials
Charter challenged claims about cable internet’s reliability that it asserted were conveyed in a pair of Frontier television commercials depicting a family or couple before and after obtaining Frontier Fiber internet service.
NAD determined that the commercials reasonably convey a comparative message that Frontier’s fiber internet service is more reliable than cable internet service, which is unreliable, and subject to frequent outages.
Because NAD concluded that Frontier’s support was not a good fit to substantiate this message, NAD recommended that the commercials be discontinued or modified to avoid conveying that Frontier’s fiber internet service is more reliable than cable internet service and that cable internet service is unreliable and subject to frequent outages.
Upload Speed Claim
NAD found that the monadic claim “Fast upload speeds are important for things like video chatting and gaming,” on its own, was supported.
99.9999% Reliability Claim
Frontier provided no evidence to support its claim that Frontier Fiber has “99.9999% network reliability.” Therefore, NAD recommended that the claim be discontinued.
In its advertiser statement, Frontier stated that it “agrees to comply with the NAD’s recommendations” although it “does not agree with all aspects of the NAD’s decision.” The advertiser further noted that it “intends to continue to target its Frontier Fiber advertising to markets in which Frontier Fiber is available and will take NAD’s recommendations and industry practice into account in future advertising.”
All BBB National Programs case decision summaries can be found in the case decision library. For the full text of NAD, NARB, and CARU decisions, subscribe to the online archive.
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