If you’ve seen or heard a T-Mobile ad lately, you’ve likely repeatedly heard T-Mobile’s claims of being America’s “Most Reliable 5G” network. Unfortunately for the “Un-Carrier,” T-Mobile can no longer advertise that. The carrier lost yet another appeal to the National Advertising Review Board (NARB) in its effort to claim 5G dominance.
NARB made the decision and recommendation after reviewing data from network testing company, umlaut. The board determined that the methodology that umlaut was using didn’t support the proper criteria needed to bestow T-Mobile with the “most reliable” network crown, and NARB upheld earlier, separate findings by the National Advertising Division (NAD) brought up by Verizon and AT&T in November of last year. The reason is that umlaut’s methods didn’t consider “task competition” as a metric of reliability, which is one of two fundamental building blocks and the capability to connect to the T-Mobile network.
NARB wrote of the ruling, “Further, in the absence of convincing consumer research justifying a different result, the panel agreed with NAD’s conclusion that at least one component of network reliability analysis should be task completion.”
What umlaut did differently in its April 2021 assessment of 5G network reliability was use two different methods to evaluate speed and coverage. However, NARB pointed out that mobile carriers will usually advertise three major components of their networks: speed, coverage, and reliability.
“This practice further confirms that, to the reasonable consumer, reliability is a metric that is distinct from coverage and speed even if those two metrics may properly be part of the assessment of reliability, as NAD concluded in the underlying proceeding,” NARB stated. Umlaut’s report instead uses crowdsourced data from software that operates in the background from downloaded apps from the Google Play store.
Unsurprisingly, T-Mobile disagreed with NARB’s decision and blamed umlaut’s “faulty” 5G assessment. The carrier stated, “nonetheless remains mindful of NAD’s directive that wireless carriers ensure their network performance claims be based on current data, and will make sure that any future claim that its 5G network is the most reliable addresses the concerns that NARB has articulated in this decision.”
NAD is important to consumers because it keeps wireless carriers honest about their advertising. Carriers continually try to one-up another with claims of faster networks, better reliability, etc., and NAD helps regulate those claims in advertising for truth and transparency.
It’s not all bad news for T-Mobile, though. The carrier has received high marks in other third-party tests for its 5G speeds and coverage. But the elusive title for network reliability still belongs to Verizon despite T-Mobile’s numerous attempts to claim superior network reliability.