New York, NY – July 6, 2023 – A panel of the National Advertising Review Board (NARB), the appellate advertising body of BBB National Programs, determined that Charter Communications, Inc.’s quantified speed claims do not mislead reasonable consumers. Examples of those claims include:
The advertising at issue had been challenged at BBB National Programs’ National Advertising Division (NAD) by Frontier Communications Parent, Inc. Frontier offers residential internet service using fiber and DSL services over copper phone wire. Charter offers its residential internet service as Spectrum internet through a hybrid fiber coaxial network.
Following NAD’s decision (Case No. 7153), Charter appealed NAD’s recommendations to qualify its speed claims to indicate whether the speed claims refer to download or upload speeds. In support of its recommendation, NAD had concluded that both download and upload speeds are material considerations for consumers when selecting an internet service provider (ISP).
A majority of the NARB panel disagreed with NAD’s recommendation in the underlying decision, crediting Charter’s argument that it has been an industry practice for approximately two decades that quantified speed references in ISP advertising communicate download speeds. Absent any evidence of consumer confusion, the NARB panel concluded the challenged quantified speed claims made by Charter do not mislead reasonable consumers. One panel member dissented and found that the quantified speed claims, in context, were ambiguous, and could convey to reasonable consumers that the “speed” reference is to both upload and download speeds.
Charter stated that it “delivers speed tier options up to 1 Gbps to all of its customers and welcomes the appellate panel’s decision to set aside NAD’s recommendation with respect to the industry-standard manner in which these speed tier options are advertised.”
About BBB National Programs: BBB National Programs, a non-profit organization, is the home of U.S. independent industry self-regulation, currently operating more than a dozen globally recognized programs that have been helping enhance consumer trust in business for more than 50 years. These programs provide third-party accountability and dispute resolution services that address existing and emerging industry issues, create a fairer playing field for businesses, and a better experience for consumers. BBB National Programs continues to evolve its work and grow its impact by providing business guidance and fostering best practices in arenas such as advertising, child-and-teen-directed marketing, data privacy, dispute resolution, automobile warranty, technology, and emerging areas. To learn more, visit bbbprograms.org.
About the National Advertising Review Board (NARB): The National Advertising Review Board (NARB) is the appellate body for BBB National Programs’ advertising self-regulatory programs. NARB’s panel members include 85 distinguished volunteer professionals from the national advertising industry, agencies, and public members, such as academics and former members of the public sector. NARB serves as a layer of independent industry peer review that helps engender trust and compliance in NAD, CARU, and DSSRC matters.