Verizon is yet again found guilty of making misleading claims in 5G commercials

Verizon is yet again found guilty of making misleading claims in 5G commercials
Verizon's 5G Ultra Wideband network is a bit of a mixed bag, being simultaneously named the world's best and worst in terms of average download speeds and availability respectively in a comprehensive Opensignal report a couple of months ago.

Big Red's limited 5G coverage was of course highlighted by multiple research firms before and after the release of that specific report, most recently in a paper put together by Speedtest makers Ookla that found Verizon's 5G signal to be roughly 130 times harder to acquire across the nation compared to T-Mobile's (much slower) low-band technology.

Obviously, you'd never imagine that was the case if you were to rely solely on Verizon's marketing and advertising campaigns, which are carefully crafted to emphasize the undoubtedly impressive Ultra Wideband speeds while often neglecting to make the poor coverage aspect clear. 

Even though America's largest wireless service provider is generally prudent and shrewd enough not to make outright false claims in its commercials, the National Advertising Division has found the carrier guilty of "potentially communicating a misleading message to consumers."

Two TV ads will need to go away


Following a complaint filed by AT&T (who else?), the NAD launched an investigation that ultimately concluded yesterday that two different Verizon commercials lacked clarity regarding the limitations and drawbacks of using the mobile network operator's much-touted 5G service.

For starters, Verizon's claim that "people from midtown Manhattan to downtown Denver can experience what your 5G can deliver" was considered deceitful, strongly suggesting that the Ultra Wideband network is "broadly available nationally" when in fact said coverage is "primarily restricted to outdoor locations in certain neighborhoods" of a handful of large cities only, not to mention that said 5G availability often "varies from block to block."


Granted, the ads at fault did feature a disclosure "clarifying" that 5G Ultra Wideband technology is only available in "parts of select cities and locations", but the BBB National Programs' National Advertising Division ruled that the note was in fact "not clear and conspicuous enough" while also failing to "effectively qualify or limit the claims."

Verizon was also challenged in regards to some mind-blowing speed scores presented as "typically experienced by consumers." Since the NAD found no evidence that the average user is indeed routinely able to achieve download speeds of "almost 2 gigs" when connected to the 5G Ultra Wideband network, Verizon will have to discontinue this promotional claim as well.

Of course, Big Red doesn't technically have to do anything, as the National Advertising Division is merely authorized to offer recommendations rather than actually enforce its verdicts, but Verizon has already announced it fully plans to comply with these particular recommendations, even though the carrier doesn't agree with "all aspects of NAD's decision."

The second such case in the space of just two months


Believe it or not, this NAD ruling came exactly two months after a similar decision in an eerily similar case initiated by a complaint filed by... none other than AT&T. Back then, Verizon was recommended to ditch the claim that it is delivering "the most powerful 5G experience for America", a verdict the carrier also voluntarily complied with... at least in part.

That's because Big Red announced its intention to appeal a "portion" of that particular decision, strongly believing that consumers fully understood the message that was "reasonably conveyed." Namely, that Verizon was in the process of "building the most powerful 5G experience", spending billions of dollars towards that goal rather than having achieved it already.


By not appealing the latest ruling, we could interpret Verizon is indirectly acknowledging the advertising "crimes" it is now accused of, despite claiming the contrary.

For its part, AT&T found itself embroiled in a similar controversy back in May, deciding to comply with the NAD's recommendation of discontinuing the controversial "5G Evolution" marketing label after the National Advertising Review Board rejected Ma Bell's appeal.

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