Verizon is in hot water over its misleading 5G commercials following AT&T complaint

Verizon is in hot water over its misleading 5G commercials following AT&T complaint
If you've been following the countless mobile network reports recently released by reputable research and analytics companies like OpenSignal and RootMetrics, you probably know the 5G situation in the US right now is... far from ideal.

While T-Mobile has a speed problem, delivering modest "nationwide" upgrades compared to its 4G LTE connectivity, at least for the time being, Verizon is in a serious pickle when it comes to scaling up its blazing fast Ultra Wideband network

As for AT&T, the country's second-largest wireless service provider is not exactly shining in terms of either 5G coverage or performance, which might be why Ma Bell has decided to attack its arch-rival on a different front. According to a press release issued by BBB National Programs and its National Advertising Division (NAD) last week, Verizon was found guilty of misrepresenting the "power" of its mmWave-based 5G network in two TV commercials challenged by, you guessed it, AT&T.

Time heals all wounds, but not all deceptions

It's obviously not surprising to see the two competing carriers butt heads on a seemingly trivial topic like publicity, especially with "New T-Mobile" breathing down their necks and threatening the industry's long-standing duopoly with a well-thought-out 5G rollout strategy, although it's definitely also funny to think AT&T was in the accused box just last year for similar shenanigans.

If anything, Ma Bell misled its customers more by rebranding LTE Advanced as 5G Evolution to suggest its work towards delivering a "true" 5G signal was more advanced (pun intended) than it actually was. For its part, Verizon is accused of a series of arguably more minor advertising crimes, failing to "clearly" and "conspicuously" disclose the limitations of its 5G coverage both outside and inside certain sports venues.

The challenged commercials touted Big Red's super-advanced 5G experiences in basketball arenas and on football stadiums, exaggerating the network's current capabilities and doing far too little to highlight the infamously weak coverage of said mmWave network.

The battle for "power" rages on

Interestingly, Verizon doesn't plan to fight these allegations, promising to "comply with NAD's recommendations regarding the clarity and conspicuousness of disclosures." But Big Red does intend to file an appeal on a separate claim of advertising misconduct.

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Specifically, the carrier is unwilling to relinquish its "most powerful 5G experience for America" slogan, emphasizing its intent is to "inform consumers about the billions of dollars Verizon is investing in its 5G buildout." Said catchphrase has been repeatedly used in other commercials, as well as on social media and even the mobile network operator's official website, so it's definitely no wonder that Big Red wants to hang on to it.

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In NAD's view, Verizon shouldn't use the present tense when making the "most powerful 5G experience" claim if this primarily refers to ongoing efforts and expenses aimed at improving a currently flawed experience only available in "parts of select cities" and even in parts of stadiums and arenas. 

Furthermore, the National Advertising Division is taking issue with the word "power", which is essentially used as a synonym for speed when in fact it should combine different notions and aspects of a wireless network's capabilities, including resilience, coverage, and latency.

It remains to be seen if Verizon will ultimately be allowed to continue claiming that it's delivering the most powerful 5G experience for America, but more importantly, it remains to be seen when more customers will be able to acquire a 5G signal. For many people, even a slower one based on low-band technology will probably do for now.

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