AT&T wins challenge of Charter’s “20X faster” internet speed claim

Cable operator Charter Communications lost its latest advertising spat with broadband rival AT&T, agreeing to make changes to marketing material claiming its service offers download speeds 20X faster than AT&T Internet.

The National Advertising Division (NAD) recommended Charter make the changes after AT&T challenged its claim. NAD is part of BBB National Programs, an organization which oversees self-regulation programs for the advertising industry.

Charter made the disputed claim in a TV commercial. In its ruling, NAD said a review of Charter’s assertion that “Spectrum download speeds are 20X faster than AT&T” found the cable player failed to make clear that it was comparing its own 1-gig service to AT&T’s 50 Mbps offering. It concluded Charter’s claim implied that AT&T does not offer comparable speeds or even speeds faster than 50 Mbps, though AT&T does, in fact, offer its own gigabit service.

Ultimately, NAD advised Charter to either discontinue the claim entirely or change its marketing to “conspicuously disclose the specific service tiers on which the speed comparison is based.”

In a statement, Charter noted the commercial in question is no longer on air. It added it disagrees with the recommendations, but will comply with them if it decides to use the 20X faster claim again.

The NAD regularly reviews challenged claims, but Charter and AT&T have already clashed a number of times this year.

In February, AT&T lost an appeal of an NAD decision from 2021 which recommended it change claims that its internet offers “20x faster upload speeds” and is “half the price” of cable in light of a challenge from Charter. The following month, NAD issued a split decision in a dispute related to Spectum Mobile advertising, backing Charter’s “all-in” price claim but recommending it drop disparaging statements about AT&T’s surprise fees.

In April, NAD handed AT&T another partial win over Charter, recommending the latter change several marketing claims related to AT&T’s data limits and reliability. And in June, AT&T won another ad spat related to Charter’s internet reliability claims.