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T-Mobile advised to stop using ‘fast’ and ‘reliable’ in FWA ads


The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs told T-Mobile to stop claiming its T-Mobile Home Internet service is “fast” and “reliable.”


Of course, that didn’t go over well at T-Mobile, which is appealing parts of the NAD decision that came after a complaint was lodged by rival Comcast. It wasn't all bad news for the "un-carrier." NAD found that the claim made by T-Mobile that “your price is locked in” is OK because T-Mobile hasn’t increased the monthly price charged to its home internet subscribers.


But NAD told T-Mobile to discontinue claims that its home internet service is “fast” or “high speed” or modify its advertising to avoid conveying a message that the service will be “fast” or “high speed” for all fixed wireless access (FWA) customers.


T-Mobile Home Internet (T-HINT) customers experience “a range of speeds,” NAD said, concluding that T-Mobile did not provide sufficient evidence to conclude that all T-HINT customers receive speeds above the FCC’s standards for high-speed broadband internet and thus did not provide a reasonable basis of support for its “fast” or “high-speed” claims.


As for the reliability claims, NAD found that, in context, T-Mobile’s claims that T-HINT is “reliable” may convey the messages that T-HINT customers will maintain a dependable internet connection and that T-HINT “consistently delivers fast speeds and service without disruption.”


Wireless vs. wired


In commentary explaining the decision, NAD addressed the differences between internet service delivered via a wireless network versus a cable or fixed wireline network.


With T-Mobile’s Home Internet service, customers wirelessly connect to T-Mobile’s network through a gateway device that converts T-Mobile’s mobile signal to a Wi-Fi signal in the home, NAD noted. That means it’s susceptible to factors such as the distance between the subscriber’s in-home receiver and the cellular tower, the presence of physical obstacles between the in-home receiver and cellular tower and environmental factors such as weather that can interfere with signal strength.


These factors vary for each customer and even though T-Mobile pointed out that it offers the Home Internet service only to consumers at addresses with observed performance characteristics sufficient to get speeds above the FCC’s 25/3 Mbps threshold, NAD determined T-Mobile didn’t provide enough evidence to support its claims.


“NAD determined that T-Mobile’s advertising does not distinguish T-HINT from wired internet like cable because the advertising does not clearly communicate that T-HINT provides internet on the same mobile wireless network that T- Mobile smartphones run on,” NAD stated.


In its “advertiser’s statement,” T-Mobile said it will appeal parts of NAD’s decision and that it disagrees with the finding that it couldn’t substantiate the “reliable” claim.


Last year, T-Mobile launched a lighter version of its Home Internet service so that more people could get a chance to use it. The “un-carrier” is going after cable companies in a big way, calling it the “most hated industry” and seeking to change what it regards as backwards practices that include lengthy installation times and high prices.


The Home Internet Lite version starts at $50 a month for 100 gigabytes of data. For the unlimited version of its FWA service, T-Mobile uses a geospatial engineering model to determine eligibility.



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