NAD Recommends Verizon Discontinue Certain 5G Availability and Speed Claims in Two TV Commercials
For Immediate Release
Contact: Abby Hills, Director of Communications, BBB National Programs
301.412.7769 / firstname.lastname@example.org
New York, NY – July 14, 2020 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) determined that, in the context of two television commercials touting Verizon’s rollout of 5G service in cities across the country, challenged by AT&T Services, Inc., certain express and implied claims regarding the breadth of Verizon’s 5G coverage and typical speeds potentially communicate a misleading message to consumers.
NAD recommended that Verizon discontinue claims which communicate:
- That its 5G service is widely available in cities across the country, and
- That its service is broadly and readily accessible in cities where it has been launched.
NAD also recommended that the advertiser discontinue claims implying that the speeds referenced in the commercials are typically experienced by consumers.
The following are representative of the challenged claims:
“People from midtown Manhattan to downtown Denver can experience what your 5G can deliver.”
Commercial falsely implies that Verizon 5G service is broadly available nationally.
Consumers will be able to access Verizon’s 5G network in the specific locations its engineers are depicted to be standing (and representative locations like them).
Verizon’s 5G network typically delivers speeds of “almost 2 Gigs.”
NAD noted that the challenged advertising consists of shifting images of Verizon engineers describing the exceptional speed and capacity of Verizon’s 5G network while standing in geographically diverse cities throughout the United States, with several running real-time speed tests on their phones. NAD determined that while the challenged advertising communicates the accurate message that Verizon is building its 5G network, the commercials simultaneously tout the current performance of the network, ultimately conveying the net impression that Verizon’s “ultrafast” 5G network is widely available in cities across the country and, where it has already been launched, is broadly and readily accessible to consumers.
NAD also determined that the challenged advertising reasonably communicates that Verizon’s exceptional speed and performance can be broadly accessed in the cities where it has been launched. Finally, NAD determined that the challenged advertising does not convey a message that consumers will be able to access Verizon’s 5G network in the specific locations its engineers are depicted to be standing, but rather that the locations are representative of the numerous cities across the country where Verizon’s 5G services is available to consumers.
With regard to substantiation, Verizon does not dispute that its current 5G service is limited. Verizon’s 5G coverage is primarily restricted to outdoor locations in certain neighborhoods and varies from block to block. Since Verizon’s 5G coverage, at present, is not broadly accessible throughout the cities where it has been launched, NAD was concerned that the challenged advertising potentially communicates a misleading message to consumers. NAD considered whether Verizon’s disclosure (“5G Ultra Wideband only available in parts of select cities and locations. 5G-capable device req’d. Coverage may vary and is not available exactly in all locations and venues depicted.”) is sufficient to limit its claims, but concluded that it is not clear and conspicuous, and fails to effectively qualify or limit the claims. Therefore, NAD recommended the claims be discontinued.
NAD noted that to the extent Verizon wishes to promote the current availability and performance of its 5G network to consumers across the nation – including people who live in cities and towns across the country that may not receive Verizon 5G coverage for months, if not years – Verizon should ensure that its advertising clearly and conspicuously communicates to consumers the relevant, material limitations of its current network.
Further, with regard to the speeds referenced during the challenged commercials (e.g., “almost 2 gigs here in Los Angeles,” “1.7 Gigs here in Houston”), in the absence of evidence showing that Verizon’s speed test results accurately characterize how Verizon’s 5G network will perform under normal consumer use, or a clear and conspicuous disclosure of the expected results, NAD recommended these claims be discontinued.
In its advertiser’s statement, Verizon stated that it will comply with NAD’s recommendations even though it does not agree with all aspects of NAD’s decision. Verizon further stated that it “remains committed to the self-regulatory process and believes strongly in transparency of customer messaging.”
About BBB National Programs: BBB National Programs is where businesses turn to enhance consumer trust and consumers are heard. This independent, non-profit organization enhances trust, innovation, and competition in the marketplace through the development and delivery of cost-effective, third-party self-regulation, dispute resolution, and accountability programs. BBB National Programs’ 10 leading industry self-regulation and dispute resolution programs resolve business issues of national and international importance, and fosters industry best practices in truth-in-advertising, child-directed marketing, data privacy, and dispute resolution. To learn more about industry self-regulation, visit bbbprograms.org.
About the National Advertising Division: The National Advertising Division (NAD), a division 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.
Children’s Advertising Review Unit Determines Development Platform Unity Did Not Have Actual Knowledge of Ad SDK Data Collection in Child-Directed Apps
McLean, VA – April 28, 2021 – The Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU), a division of BBB National Programs, determined that Unity Technologies did not have actual knowledge, as defined by the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and CARU’s Guidelines for Online Privacy...
National Advertising Division Recommends Charter Communications Discontinue Spectrum Mobile “Fastest Overall Speeds” Nationwide Claim; Advertiser to Appeal
New York, NY – April 27, 2021 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) determined that evidence offered by Charter Communications to support its claim that Spectrum Mobile delivers the “fastest overall speeds” nationwide was not a good fit. In recommending that the claim be...
National Advertising Division Recommends Natural Diamond Council Discontinue Certain Advertising Claims on Benefits of Mined Versus Man-Made Diamonds
New York, NY – April 22, 2021 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) recommended that the Natural Diamond Council discontinue certain advertising claims comparing mined diamonds with man-made diamonds, including the carbon emissions associated with diamond mining compared with diamond...
DSSRC Refers Health-Related Product and Earnings Claims for Bulavita to FTC
McLean, VA – April 20, 2021 – The Direct Selling Self-Regulatory Council (DSSRC) of BBB National Programs referred certain representative product performance and earnings claims to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for possible enforcement action after Bulavita failed to respond to DSSRC’s inquiry.