AT&T told to change ads after Charter challenges fiber claims

AT&T largely lost an advertising dispute with Charter Communications, with a review panel recommending the operator change or discontinue claims its fiber service is better than cable.

The case dates back to last year, when Charter filed a complaint with the National Advertising Division (NAD) challenging assertions made in AT&T ads that it offers “up to 20x faster upload speeds” than cable and is “half the price.” Charter also disputed AT&T’s claims that fiber offers “better internet” than cable.

In November, NAD mostly sided with Charter and recommended AT&T change its ads, prompting AT&T to appeal the decision to the National Advertising Review Board (NARB). Both NAD and NARB are part of BBB National Programs, an organization which oversees self-regulation programs for the advertising industry.

AT&T was dealt a blow on Wednesday when NARB issued a ruling which largely upheld NAD’s findings.

Specifically, NARB concluded the “20x faster upload” claim was misleading and told AT&T it should either discontinue ads using the phrasing or else clearly indicate which tier of service provides the claimed upload benefit.

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NARB agreed that the most expensive tier of AT&T’s business fiber service is indeed “half the price” of competitors’ equivalent tiers, but noted the same isn’t true of other AT&T plans. Thus, it recommended the operator drop commercials which make that claim or modify them to make clear that the claim only applies to AT&T’s top tier business fiber plan.

Additionally, NARB concluded AT&T should discontinue claims its fiber service offers “better internet” than cable.

AT&T said it would comply with NARB’s decision but “respectfully disagree[s]” with most of its findings.

The challenged claims appeared in five video commercials, three radio ads, one outdoor ad, one online display ad and six AT&T webpage advertisements.