T-Mobile says it will continue to claim it has the country’s fastest LTE network even after the National Advertising Division, a telecom industry watchdog group, “recommended” that it stop doing so in print, TV, and web advertisements. “NAD previously recognized third-party crowd-sourced data as a way to look at network performance, so we looked at the latest results, and verified what we already knew,” said Janice V. Kapner, T-Mobile’s senior vice president of corporate communications, in a statement given to The Verge. “T-Mobile is still the fastest LTE network and we'll continue to let consumers know that.”
The dispute arose earlier this year as part of a T-Mobile ad campaign that insinuated that Verizon’s network was older and slower, and that its service did not feature unlimited plans. Verizon then filed a complaint with the NAD, which is a self-regulatory body of the telecom industry designed to settle disputes, avoid litigation, and protect against unwanted government regulation.
Verizon said at the time that because T-Mobile was relying on crowdsourced data from third-party speed test providers Ookla and OpenSignal, the data was skewed in favor of T-Mobile. The data was pulled from a one-month period after Verizon first reintroduced its unlimited plans. Verizon’s logic wasn’t super bulletproof: the company claimed that because it had never before offered unlimited plans, T-Mobile customers — who were familiar with the concept of throttling after a certain data threshold — were more likely to be sampled in the crowdsourced data set provided to the NAD.
Still, T-Mobile discontinued the disputed commercial, and the NAD felt the need to offer guidelines last week, advising the company not to claim its network was faster or newer. The NAD also instructed T-Mobile to modify its claim that it covered 99.7 percent of Verizon customers to make clear that the coverage is by population and not geographic area. In effect, the NAD wants T-Mobile to stop use misleading maps of the US in advertising material.
While the NAD’s statement says T-Mobile “agrees to comply with NAD’s recommendations,” the telecom appears eager to keep pushing the boundaries by saying the new data verifies its earlier claims. It is unclear where this data is from, or how it differs from speed test data from services like Ookla.
Update at 4:33PM ET, 10/2: Included new statement from T-Mobile.