In Challenge by AT&T, NAD Finds Certain Xfinity 5G Service Limited Availability Disclosures Sufficient and Recommends Comcast Modify Others
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New York, NY – March 18, 2021 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs determined that certain website disclosures used in connection with claims for Comcast Cable Communication, Inc.’s Xfinity 5G wireless service clearly and conspicuously disclosed the limited availability of the 5G service at the time. However, NAD recommended that the advertiser modify a challenged Amy Poehler commercial, as well as two other related 5G claims, with more conspicuous disclosures.
The claims at issue were challenged by AT&T Services, Inc.
In October 2020, during the pendency of the challenge, Comcast (the network that carries Xfinity wireless service) added 5G service on low band spectrum available in 1,800 cities serving 200 million people. NAD recognized that Comcast now has nationwide 5G service on low band. However, at the time the challenge was filed, 5G wireless service was not widely available but, rather, only available in select parts of select cities.
Prior NAD cases have established that claims about services or products that are “more unavailable than available” must clearly and conspicuously disclose that fact to consumers at the time the claim is made.
The claims in this case found to have sufficient disclosures include:
- “The best connection at any moment,” both a 5G and 4G graphic with the Wi-Fi symbol, and the accompanying disclaimer right below the main claim stating, “Experience unmatched speed on 5G in select locations.” (Xfinity coverage website)
- “Nationwide coverage … You’re covered nationwide with 5G in select locations, 4G LTE, and millions of secure Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots – all in one powerful network. 5G available only in parts of select cities.” (Xfinity coverage website)
- “A powerful network – now with 5G” with the disclaimer “5G available only in parts of select cities.” (Xfinity mobile webpage)
NAD determined that the challenged Amy Poehler commercial reasonably conveyed a 5G availability message that required a clear and conspicuous disclosure regarding the relevant limitations of its 5G service. The commercial included a small disclosure that 5G was “only available in parts of select cities,” which is an accurate and clear representation of Xfinity’s limitations.
NAD noted that the disclosure appears in the frame where Ms. Poehler states, “Everybody gets 5G,” and is therefore in sufficient proximity to the main claim. NAD determined, however, that the disclosure was not conspicuous because the gray font was small and placed against a background with almost no contrast.
As a result, NAD recommended that the advertiser modify the commercial by more conspicuously display the disclosure “5G capable device required. 5G available only in parts of select cities.”
NAD noted that Xfinity’s 5G “homepage” - which contains a link to its coverage website -claims that “5G is here,” with no limitations or disclosures. The same website also claimed “A powerful network – now with 5G.” Website claims, even when accompanied by a link to another page with the appropriate disclosure, must stand alone as truthful and accurate. Therefore, NAD recommended that the advertiser include a clear and conspicuous disclosure regarding the geographic limitations of Xfinity 5G service.
In its advertiser statement, Comcast stated that it agrees to comply with NAD’s decision and noted that it had “previously and voluntarily modified its advertising to more prominently disclose the limitations of its 5G availability.” The advertiser further stated that “because the advertised 5G services is now broadly available nationwide, Comcast understands that disclosing the limited availability of 5G service is no longer necessary.”
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About the National Advertising Division: The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs provides independent self-regulation and dispute resolution services, guiding the truthfulness of advertising across the U.S. NAD reviews national advertising in all media and its decisions set consistent standards for advertising truth and accuracy, delivering meaningful protection to consumers and leveling the playing field for business.
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