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Charter can keep downstream speed claim, ad watchdog rulesCharter can keep downstream speed claim, ad watchdog rules

Following a complaint lodged by AT&T, the National Advertising Division found that Charter substantiated the 'most consistent download speeds' claim for broadband in a pair of TV spots.

Jeff Baumgartner

April 5, 2023

2 Min Read
Charter can keep downstream speed claim, ad watchdog rules

Charter Communications came out on top in the latest advertising claim challenge lodged by AT&T.

In its response to a challenge plaint from AT&T, the National Advertising Division (NAD) announced today that Charter substantiated its "most consistent download speeds" claim for its Spectrum-branded broadband service.

AT&T used an expedited challenge process, dubbed Fast-Track SWIFT, to bring this "single-issue" ad case to the NAD. In this instance, AT&T challenged Charter's downstream-focused claim in two TV spots that included a small print disclosure reading that its claims were "[b]ased on comparison of fiber participants in the 2023 Measuring Broadband America Report."

Figure 1: (Source: Rawf8/Alamy Stock Photo) (Source: Rawf8/Alamy Stock Photo)

NAD said Charter's claim is supported because the FCC's report, as cited in Charter's TV ads, demonstrated that the cable operator does indeed have "the most consistent download speeds" when compared to other ISPs with which it competes.

According to the FCC's 2023 broadband measurement report, Charter was among a group of cable operators studied that delivered median download speeds that were "very consistent" – greater than 100% of the advertised – during peak usage periods to more than 80% of panelists for more than 80% of the time.

More specifically, in a section of the report focused on peak period median download speeds, it found that Charter's actual downstream speed came in at over 100% above the advertised speed for tiers delivering 100 Mbit/s, 200 Mbit/s and 400 Mbit/s.

This wasn't the first time Charter and AT&T have duked it out at the NAD over broadband speed claims. Last fall, Charter agreed to discontinue TV ads claiming it delivered download speeds that are 20x faster than AT&T's.

Such ad fights have become increasingly frequent as telcos and cable operators battle for broadband subscribers and as cable operators such as Charter and Comcast encroach into the mobile services market.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Jeff Baumgartner

Senior Editor, Light Reading

Jeff Baumgartner is a Senior Editor for Light Reading and is responsible for the day-to-day news coverage and analysis of the cable and video sectors. Follow him on X and LinkedIn.

Baumgartner also served as Site Editor for Light Reading Cable from 2007-2013. In between his two stints at Light Reading, he led tech coverage for Multichannel News and was a regular contributor to Broadcasting + Cable. Baumgartner was named to the 2018 class of the Cable TV Pioneers.

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