New York, NY – October 26, 2022 – Acting on a challenge by AT&T Services, the National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs determined that Cox Communications, Inc. provided a reasonable basis for the express claim that Cox can deliver “gig speeds everywhere” and the implied claim that Cox can provide gig speeds to all of its customers and AT&T cannot provide gig speeds (or faster) to all of its customers.
However, NAD recommended that Cox modify:
- The claim that “Cox delivers gig-speeds everywhere” to disclose that gig speeds are only available for download speeds.
- Its advertising to avoid conveying the unsupported implied message that AT&T does not offer similar or faster speeds than 5G providers in markets where Cox and AT&T compete.
AT&T Services challenged comparative claims made by Cox in a television and radio commercial for its “Gigablast” internet service that provides download speeds of 1 Gbps and upload speeds of up to 35 Mbps.Gigablast is available to all of Cox’s residential customers over a hybrid coaxial cable-fiberoptic network.
“Gig-Speeds Everywhere” Claim
The 30-second television commercial appears as an animated text message conversation between Cox and AT&T with words and emojis accompanied by an upbeat, jazz-like musical score. NAD determined that, in the context of the challenged television commercial, the claim that Cox provides “gig-speeds everywhere” conveys the message that Cox can provide gig speeds to all customers and AT&T cannot provide gig speeds to all its customers.
NAD concluded that this message was supported based on evidence that the Cox network provides almost any consumer within Cox’s footprint, and every customer in the areas where the challenged advertising appears, with Gigablast, Cox’s 1 Gig tier of service. NAD accepted Cox’s assertion that less than half of AT&T Fiber customers have access to gig-speed or faster internet service because of the limited availability of fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) services across the AT&T network.
Prior decisions by NAD and BBB National Programs’ appellate body, the National Advertising Review Board (NARB) have concluded that general comparative internet speed claims, unless qualified, convey a message about download and upload speeds. Here, NAD found that Cox’s unqualified “gig-speeds everywhere” claim was not supported by the record because Cox limits upload speeds for all Gigablast users to 35 Mbps, a far slower speed than the 1 Gbps download speed highlighted in the challenged advertising.
Further, NAD concluded that the disclosure in the challenged television commercial is confusing, does not adequately qualify the “gig-speeds everywhere” claim, and is not clear and conspicuous. NAD noted consumers seeking gig-speed (or faster) internet services should understand both the upload and download speeds, particularly because the upload and download speeds are so different. Both upload and download speeds may be relevant to a consumer’s interest in gig-speed internet.
For these reasons, NAD recommended that the claim “Cox delivers gig-speeds everywhere” be modified to clearly and conspicuously disclose within close proximity to the claim that gig speeds are only available for download speeds.
Cox Customers “Can Always Choose Internet that Can Deliver Speeds Faster than 5G Providers”
NAD found that one reasonable message conveyed by the challenged television commercial was that Cox can provide internet speeds faster than 5G providers and AT&T cannot.
NAD also determined that the challenged radio commercial presented the claim in a slightly different context and that one reasonable message consumers will understand from the radio commercial is the choice between Cox, who delivers internet speeds faster than 5G providers, or AT&T, who cannot provide speeds faster than 5G providers in markets where Cox and AT&T compete.
NAD concluded that the message that AT&T cannot provide speeds faster than 5G providers is not supported by the record because in some markets AT&T provides its Fiber service where customers can get 1-Gig speeds. Therefore, NAD recommended that Cox modify its advertising to avoid conveying the unsupported implied message that AT&T does not offer similar or faster speeds than 5G providers in markets where Cox and AT&T compete.
During the proceeding, Cox permanently discontinued the claim “the latest Smart Wi-Fi everywhere.” Therefore, NAD did not review this claim on the merits.
In its advertiser statement, Cox stated that it “will comply with NAD’s recommendations.” Further, the advertiser stated that it “values the self-regulatory process and will keep NAD’s recommendations in mind as it develops future advertising.”
About BBB National Programs: BBB National Programs is where businesses turn to enhance consumer trust and consumers are heard. The non-profit organization creates a fairer playing field for businesses and a better experience for consumers through the development and delivery of effective third-party accountability and dispute resolution programs. Embracing its role as an independent organization since the restructuring of the Council of Better Business Bureaus in June 2019, BBB National Programs today oversees more than a dozen leading national industry self-regulation programs, and continues to evolve its work and grow its impact by providing business guidance and fostering best practices in arenas such as advertising, child-directed marketing, and privacy. To learn more, visit bbbprograms.org.
About the National Advertising Division: The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs provides independent self-regulation and dispute resolution services, guiding the truthfulness of advertising across the U.S. NAD reviews national advertising in all media and its decisions set consistent standards for advertising truth and accuracy, delivering meaningful protection to consumers and leveling the playing field for business.
Name: Abby Hills
Job Title: Director of Communications, BBB National Programs