A panel of the National Advertising Review Board (NARB), the appellate advertising body of BBB National Programs, found that T-Mobile‘s express “fast,” “high-speed,” and “reliable” claims for T-Mobile Home Internet (T-HINT) are supported, but recommended certain modifications to the claims so consumers understand the context in which they will receive internet service and the type of performance to expect through T-HINT.

T-HINT provides home internet access through the same wireless networks T-Mobile provides its cellular phone service.

T-Mobile appealed NAD’s recommendations in (Case No. 7140) to discontinue or modify its “fast” and “high-speed” claims and discontinue its “reliable” claim for T-HINT. The advertising at issue had been challenged by Comcast Cable Communications Management, LLC.

The NARB panel concluded that T-Mobile provided a reasonable basis for its express “fast” and “high-speed” claims because T-Mobile uses the data to meet its FCC-required product disclosures and a T-Mobile business executive attested that T-HINT is only sold to customers who will receive download speeds of at least 25 megabits per second and upload speeds of at least 3 Mbps. The panel likewise concluded its express monadic “reliable” claim was supported by evidence in the record.

However, the NARB panel found that the “high-speed” or “fast” claims imply that consumers will experience speed performance akin to consumers’ experience with wired broadband service which delivers consistent speed with little variation – a message that was not supported as mobile home internet technology introduces substantial fast speed variability into network performance that is unlike wired internet speed performance.

Further, the NARB panel determined that T-Mobile’s “reliable” claim implies service dependability akin to wired home internet service, which requires more robust support than T-Mobile provided.

Therefore, the NARB panel recommended T-Mobile:

  • Modify its “fast”, “high-speed”, and “reliable” home internet service claims to clearly and conspicuously disclose that T-HINT provides internet access through a mobile wireless or cellular network and that T-HINT speeds vary due to factors affecting mobile wireless or cellular networks; and
  • Modify its speed range claims to include the percentiles of T-HINT customers to which any stated speed ranges apply.

T-Mobile stated that it appreciates the NARB panel’s “careful review and determination that T-Mobile provided a reasonable basis and reliable support for its express claims” that T-HINT is “fast,” “high-speed” and “reliable,” and that, while it disagrees that “these supported express monadic claims “need further disclosures in order to avoid implying consistent speed and dependability claims, T-Mobile supports the self-regulatory process and will take NARB’s recommendation into account in future advertising.”