T-Mobile Appeals National Advertising Division Recommendation to Discontinue Claims that T-Mobile Has the Most Reliable 5G Network According to umlaut

For Immediate Release
Contact: Abby Hills, Director of Communications, BBB National Programs

703.247.9330 / press@bbbnp.org

New York, NY – November 23, 2021 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs recommended that T-Mobile US, Inc. discontinue all claims that it has the most reliable 5G network according to the third-party testing company, umlaut. T-Mobile will appeal NAD’s decision. The express and implied claims, which appeared in two television commercials and internet advertising, were challenged by AT&T Services, Inc. 

In support of its superior 5G network reliability claim, T-Mobile relied on the results of an audit report conducted by umlaut. The umlaut report uses crowdsourced data collected from mobile phones by software that operates in the background of apps downloaded from the Google Play app store.  

NAD noted that umlaut’s scoring for 5G network reliability tested the following three metrics:

  • 5G Coverage Reach – the ability of the phone to find 5G coverage; 
  • 5G Connection Share – an evaluation of how many user’s data speed samples involved a 5G connection; and
  • DL speed – an evaluation of how many download samples are good for supporting popular services like basic internet, HD video, and UHD video.

Although T-Mobile argued that many consumers toggle between 4G and 5G and umlaut’s testing methodology represents how many consumers currently use 5G as a supplement to 4G, NAD determined that non-5G data cannot be used to support a claim about a 5G network. 

NAD noted that a claim about reliability reasonably conveys the message that consumers can use the network and stay connected for their intended purpose or to complete their task. NAD noted that umlaut testing measures two coverage metrics and one speed metric. While NAD agreed that speed and coverage are important to consider when talking about 5G network reliability, speed and coverage alone cannot support a reliability claim.

For these reasons, NAD found that umlaut’s methodology for testing the reliability of 5G networks was not a good fit for T-Mobile’s “most reliable” 5G network claim because the data used for analysis was conducted on both 5G and non-5G networks and the metrics used did not accurately measure reliability. Accordingly, NAD recommended that T-Mobile discontinue any and all express and implied claims that T-Mobile is the “most reliable 5G network” according to umlaut.

In its advertiser statement, T-Mobile stated that it “is disappointed with and will appeal NAD’s decision.” Further, the advertiser referenced umlaut’s determination that “T-Mobile’s 5G network is the most reliable 5G network in the United States” and stated that “like other similarly situated advertisers, T-Mobile should be able to advertise this independent award. Because T-Mobile strongly disagrees with NAD’s recommendation that it not do so, it will appeal NAD’s decision.”

Such appeals of NAD decisions are made to the BBB National Programs’ National Advertising Review Board (NARB), the appellate-level truth-in-advertising body of BBB National Programs.

 

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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About BBB National Programs: BBB National Programs is where businesses turn to enhance consumer trust and consumers are heard. The non-profit organization creates a fairer playing field for businesses and a better experience for consumers through the development and delivery of effective third-party accountability and dispute resolution programs. Embracing its role as an independent organization since the restructuring of the Council of Better Business Bureaus in June 2019, BBB National Programs today oversees more than a dozen leading national industry self-regulation programs, and continues to evolve its work and grow its impact by providing business guidance and fostering best practices in arenas such as advertising, child-directed marketing, and privacy. To learn more, visit bbbprograms.org.

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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