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Verizon wins ruling over AT&T for 'fastest' 5G

by BBB National Programs
NEW YORK The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs determined that Verizon Communications, Inc. provided a reasonable basis for the comparative performance claim that its 5G Ultra Wideband provides the "Fastest 5G in the World." NAD concluded that Verizon's evidence was a good fit for the claim, and that the challenged television commercial clearly and conspicuously discloses that Verizon's 5G Ultra Wideband is "available only in parts of select cities." The claim at issue was challenged by AT&T Services, Inc.

It was not disputed in this proceeding that Verizon's 5G Ultra Wideband is, at present, in fact, the world's fastest or that the challenged commercial adequately limited the "fastest 5G in the world claim" to Verizon's 5G Ultra Wideband network. In this proceeding, NAD considered whether consumers' ability to connect to Verizon's 5G Ultra Wideband 0.5% of the time rendered the comparative speed claim of so little consumer relevance as to warrant precluding Verizon from making the claim.

NAD determined that the data in the record provided a reasonable basis for a truthful, narrowly tailored comparative speed claim. The Opensignal reports of actual Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband users demonstrated that by October 2020 Verizon customers located in parts of 55 cities with 5G capable devices could, in fact, connect to Verizon's mmWave service, thereby taking advantage of the "fastest 5G in the world."

Indeed, Verizon's 5G Ultra Wideband is available to all Verizon customers with 5G-capable devices when they are in the specific parts of the cities where it has launched. While these Verizon customers may have only accessed its 5G Ultra Wideband network 0.5% of the time, this data is relative and must be considered against the overall 5G usage at the time. During the relevant time period, 5G smartphone users were still spending the vast majority of time connected to older mobile technology and by October 2020, overall, 5G usage (regardless of spectrum) was only at 21.4%.

Further, NAD concluded that the challenged commercial clearly and conspicuously discloses that Verizon's 5G Ultra Wideband is "available only in parts of select cities" and is in the process of "rolling out" in cities across the country, thereby allowing viewers to determine the consumer relevance of Verizon's speed for themselves. Absent clear evidence that a product innovation has no consumer relevance, NAD is extremely reluctant to recommend that an advertiser discontinue its promotion and, on the record in this case, found no compelling reason for doing so.

Finally, NAD acknowledged AT&T's concern that with Verizon's launch of its nationwide 5G low band service there exists the potential for consumer confusion between its nationwide 5G and 5G Ultra Wideband services with respect to Verizon's "fastest 5G in the world," claim. Thus, NAD advised that, going forward, Verizon carefully craft its comparative 5G performance claims to make clear that "fastest 5G in the world" refers only to its 5G Ultra Wideband.

In its advertiser statement, Verizon stated that it is "pleased that NAD found the claim Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband is the 'Fastest 5G in the World' to be truthful and accurate."

BBB National Programs

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