The National Advertising Division recently concluded that T-Mobile USA, Inc. can use crowdsourced data to substantiate certain implied comparative performance claims about its network and the consistency of its LTE speeds. 

The National Advertising Division (NAD) recently concluded that T-Mobile USA, Inc. can use crowdsourced data to substantiate certain implied comparative performance claims about its network and the consistency of its LTE speeds. T-Mobile advertised that its network provides “More data capacity per customer” than Verizon and AT&T. The NAD determined that this claim also conveyed an implied message that T-Mobile customers will experience some speed advantage and more consistent speeds on its LTE network when compared to other networks.

In support of this claim, T-Mobile provided data aggregated from two mobile apps from Ookla and OpenSignal that measure upload and download speeds. Crowdsourced data collected from users of the Ookla “Speedtest” application showed that nearly 80% of T-Mobile’s customers experienced data download and upload speeds consistent with LTE service (i.e., greater than 5 Mbps for download and 2 Mbps for upload)—higher than any other network. Similarly, crowdsourced data from more than 59,000 users of OpenSignal’s application showed that T-Mobile LTE customers were less likely to experience download speeds below 5 Mbps than users on other networks.

The NAD declined to decide whether the data supported an overall comparative superiority claim, but found T-Mobile had substantiated its narrower claims with respect to customer experience provided such claims were qualified as limited to its LTE network.

TIP: An advertiser must possesses reliable data that directly supports any claims made in its advertising. This decision is notable in that it indicates that the NAD believes crowdsourced data could, in certain cases, be reliable enough to adequately support a performance claim.