Comcast’s claims of “fastest internet” draws criticism from advertising watchdog

Eric Abent - Feb 9, 2017, 2:46 pm CDT
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Comcast’s claims of “fastest internet” draws criticism from advertising watchdog

If you happen to live in a section of the US where Comcast has set up shop, you’ve likely heard commercials where the company says it offers the “fastest internet in America” or the “fastest in-home Wifi.” As it turns out, those claims may not be entirely truthful, according the National Advertising Review Board, an advertising watchdog that’s part of the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

To get a little more specific, Comcast’s claims are based on Speedtest.net results from Ookla. Many of us are familiar with Speedtest.net and use it to test our own connections from time to time. NARB compared Speedtest results from Comcast and Verizon customers, and even though it found that Comcast’s observed download speeds were generally faster than Verizon’s, the opposite was true for upload speeds.

There are more issues than Comcast failing to make the distinction between download and upload speeds in its advertisements, though. As The Washington Post reports, there is a concern from the NARB that the samples pulled from Speedtest to make these claims weren’t representative of either Comcast or Verizon’s subscriber bases.

Then we have the problems with claims of “fastest in-home Wifi.” While it might be clear to most of our readers that your in-home Wifi speeds depend more on your router than anything else, that may not be the case for many of Comcast’s regular subscribers. The NARB is concerned that such a claim may mislead customers into thinking that they’re paying for fast internet, when really their in-home Wifi speeds aren’t going to be anything impressive if they have a poor-quality router.

Interestingly, Comcast said in a statement that it will follow NARB’s suggestion, even though it’s under no legal obligation to do so. “Comcast will take NAD’s recommendations into account in developing future advertisements, and expects NAD and NARB will hold all advertisers to the same standards when making similar claims,” the statement said.

We’ll see what kind of changes are implemented in Comcast’s ads as a result of this recommendation. Will Comcast begin only talking about its download speeds, or will it stop quoting test results from Ookla altogether? Time will tell, but I have to say it’s quite surprising to see Comcast go along with NARB’s recommendation when it’s not required by law.

SOURCE: The Washington Post


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