Comcast Must Back Off Internet Speed Claims

Ad assertions examined after Verizon complaint

Comcast needs to slow down its advertising claims that its Xfinity Internet service is the "fastest in the nation," per a recommendation from the National Advertising Division, the ad industry's self-regulatory unit.

The NAD, part of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, examined the ad claims based on a complaint by Verizon, which also offers Internet services in some of the same markets as Comcast.

Comcast's unqualified ad claims were based on a 2011 PC Magazine study—but the cable giant failed to disclose that Comcast shared its fastest speed rank with two other cable companies, Cox and Charter. While Comcast had the fastest download speeds, Cox had the highest upload speeds. Comcast's ads also failed to mention that according to a Federal Communications Commission report in markets where Comcast and FiOS were both available, FiOS actually had the faster speeds.

The NAD recommended today that Comcast discontinue claiming itself to be the "fastest Internet service provider in the nation." In print and Internet advertising, the NAD recommended that Comcast clearly and conspicuously disclose the PC Magazine report in immediate proximity to the triggering claims. In video ads, the NAB recommended the PC Magazine reference be in a voiceover.

Comcast could still call itself the "fastest" if it noted that it applied in markets where FiOS was not available.

Comcast told the NAD it would take its recommendations into account for future advertising.

"Comcast appreciates NAD’s confirmation that Comcast may continue to advertise that it was one of the three companies designated by PC Magazine as the fastest Internet service provider in the nation, as well as it's recognition that Comcast is the fastest Internet option for 94 percent of the 52 million households in its competitive footprint. Comcast understands that NAD’s recommendations for qualifying its claims are not intended to define the specific advertising claims that Comcast may make," Comcast said in a statement.