T-Mobile’s ‘Best Unlimited Network’ Claims

May 25th, 2018

In the classic Aesop’s fable “The Tortoise and the Hare,” the tortoise beats the hare not because he is faster but because he never stops moving.

In a somewhat similar vein, the National Advertising Division (NAD) says that just because T-Mobile can show that it has faster data and download speeds than its competitors doesn’t mean it can call itself the “best unlimited network” — at least not without further evidence supporting the claim.

NAD said in a recent release announcing its decision to recommend that T-Mobile pull the claim from Internet, TV (see above), and radio advertising:

[T]he advertiser did not provide evidence that its network is superior in providing talk and text mobile services, or in providing high-speed data more reliably or to a greater coverage area.

NAD added:

[T]here was no evidence in the record to support the argument that, for consumers, speed outweighs coverage or reliability in evaluating a network.

The evidence that T-Mobile did provide included user data from two independent sources, Ookla and OpenSignal, that measure mobile network performance speed. This included OpenSignal’s August 2017 network awards, in which T-Mobile became the first U.S. carrier to sweep all categories:

OpenSignal’s August 2017 network awards.

But NAD found that the Ookla and OpenSignal tests were insufficient to support T-Mobile’s broad superiority claim as the “best unlimited network.”

AT&T challenged the advertising with NAD. T-Mobile plans to appeal the decision.

For more of our coverage on T-Mobile, click here.

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The National Advertising Division, or NAD, is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus. NAD asks advertisers to substantiate or change their claims in advertisements. As part of a voluntary system of self-regulation, however, its recommendations can be ignored by the offending advertisers. In those instances, NAD refers the offender to federal consumer protection agencies.

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