Comcast should stop touting its broadband service as the fastest in the country, an industry watchdog reiterated in a decision unveiled on Wednesday. The National Advertising Review Board also told Comcast to stop boasting that it offers the “fastest in-home WiFi."
The decision upheld an earlier ruling by the National Advertising Division, a unit administered by the Better Business Bureau.
The NARB's ruling stems from Verizon's challenge to Comcast ads that contained statements like “FiOS just can’t keep up,” “Faster than the competition,” “Fastest in-home WiFi speed,” and “XFINITY from Comcast delivers America’s fastest Internet according to 60 million consumer tests run at Speedtest.net.”
The NARB said it agreed with the earlier finding that those ads were problematic. Among other reasons, the claim that Xfinity was "America's fastest internet" conveys that Xfinity is faster for all tiers of service, according to the NARB.
Comcast's claims wee based on crowdsourced data from metrics company Ookla's Speedtest.net, which said in 2015 that XFINITY offered the fastest Internet service.
But the NARB, like the NAD, found that Ookla's methodology didn't support Comcast's boasts. "The Ookla data is not a good fit for an overall claim that an ISP delivers 'America’s fastest internet'" the NARB wrote.
The watchdog added that Ookla's data comes from people who took the free test on Speedtest.net -- a group that wasn't necessarily a representative sample.
The NARB also said the ads convey that Xfinity delivers the fastest upload and download speeds, but that the Ookla data shows that Verizon offers faster uploads. "While the panel recognizes that download speeds are generally considered to be more important to consumers than upload speeds, upload speeds affect the overall consumer internet experience and general claims about internet speed will reasonably be interpreted as including both download and upload speeds unless the claim clearly communicates otherwise," the NARB wrote.
The watchdog also found fault with Comcast ads bragging that it offered the fastest WiFi service. Those claims were based on tests showing that Comcast's routers could perform faster on the 5 GHz band that Verizon's router, according to the NARB.
But "faster router performance does not necessarily mean faster wireless access to the internet," the NARB wrote, adding that Web access "is primarily dictated by speed of the ISP’s internet connection."
The NARB said Comcast agreed to comply with the decision.