National Advertising Division Finds T-Mobile Home Internet Availability Claim Supported, but Recommends “Save Up to 50%” Claim be Discontinued

NEW YORK, Aug 18, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs determined that T-Mobile US, Inc. provided a reasonable basis for the claim that its T‑Mobile Home Internet (T-HINT) is “available to many households in most US cities and towns” and the implied claim that T-HINT is available broadly nationwide.

However, NAD recommended that T-Mobile discontinue the claim that consumers can “save up to 50% vs. National FCC Broadband Rate Benchmark” with T-HINT, and the implied claim that a consumer will save up to 50% on their home internet services versus major competitors like Verizon.

T-HINT is a new broadband alternative to cable home internet. The claims at issue were challenged by Verizon Communications, Inc.

Availability Claim

In the challenged television commercial, the claim “introducing T-Mobile home internet” appeared with a disclosure at the bottom of the screen in the same frame that reads: “Available to many households in most US cities and towns. Details at T-Mobile .com/WiFi.”
NAD concluded that T-HINT service is now more available than unavailable to US consumers nationally. Accordingly, NAD determined that the advertiser had a reasonable basis for the claim that T-HINT is “available to many households in most US cities and towns,” and the implied claim that T-HINT is available broadly nationwide.

“Save Up to 50%” Claim

In the challenged television commercial, a computer screen is shown on which the words “Save Up to 50% vs. National FCC Broadband Rate Benchmark” were written. “Save Up to 50%” was written in bold lettering and the comparison to the FCC Broadband Rate Benchmark appears underneath in smaller font. In the same frame, a disclosure appeared at the bottom of the screen. Itread: “$105/mo. (FCC Urban Broadband Rate Survey Reasonable Comparability Benchmark) vs. $50/mo. (T-Mobile 5G Home Internet). Speeds & features vary.”

NAD determined that the basis of comparison for T-Mobile’s “save up to 50%” claim (ie, the National FCC Broadband Rate Benchmark) is not clear because the claim appears on screen for two seconds and the term “benchmark” is open to interpretation in this context. NAD found that one reasonable interpretation of the term “benchmark” is that the benchmark rate is an average rate paid by Americans for home internet service. However, the Urban Rate Survey does not represent the actual price that any consumers pay, but rather is a benchmark rate set by the FCC to ensure equitable pricing for rural areas. NAD noted that while the Urban Rate Survey may reliably collect internet service rate data for the purpose of informing public policy, the benchmark rate derived from this survey is not a good fit for the challenged savings claim.

NAD also determined that the “Up to 50%” savings claim is unsupported because few consumers are paying the $105 a month that T-Mobile uses as its basis for comparison from the FCC’s benchmark rates.

In addition, NAD found that the FCC Rate Benchmark comparison is not a good fit for the savings claim because it was not established to NAD’s satisfaction that the service tier T-Mobile selected as the basis for comparison was appropriate.

For these reasons, NAD recommended that T-Mobile discontinue the “save up to 50%” claim and the implied claim that a consumer will save up to 50% on their home internet services versus major competitors like Verizon.

In its advertiser statement, T-Mobile stated that it “agrees to comply with NAD’s recommendations.” Although the advertiser expressed disagreement with certain of NAD’s findings regarding the FCC Broadband Rate Benchmark it stated that “we remain a supporter of the self-regulatory process and will take NAD’s recommendations into account in future advertising.”

All BBB National Programs case decision summaries can be found in the case decision library. For the full text of NAD, NARB, and CARU decisions, subscribe to the online archive.

About BBB National Programs: BBB National Programs is where businesses turn to enhance consumer trust and consumers are heard. The non-profit organization creates a fairer playing field for businesses and a better experience for consumers through the development and delivery of effective third-party accountability and dispute resolution programs. Embracing its role as an independent organization since the restructuring of the Council of Better Business Bureaus in May 2019, BBB National Programs today oversees more than a dozen leading national industry self-regulation programs, and continues to evolve its work and grow its impact by providing business guidance and fostering best practices in arenas such as advertising, child-directed marketing, and privacy. To learn more, visit bbbprograms.org.

About the National Advertising Division: The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs provides independent self-regulation and dispute resolution services, guiding the truthfulness of advertising across the US NAD reviews national advertising in all media and its decisions set consistent standards for advertising truth and accuracy, delivering meaningful protection to consumers and leveling the playing field for business.

SOURCE BBB National Programs

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