Verizon Told by NAD to Stop Running Misleading 5G Ads

It seems like another major wireless carrier is in hot water amid 5G network claims. Verizon is the carrier in the hot seat this week as they’ve been told by the National Advertising Division (NAD) to stop promoting misleading claims about the coverage and speed of its 5G networks in ads. The NAD took issue with two TV ads that suggested that Verizon’s 5G network is available country-wide and customers can experience blazing-fast speeds as fast as 2GB, and Verizon said that it would stop promoting this. 

The reason behind the issue raised by the NAD was that Verizon has built a lot of their 5G network using millimeter wave, or mmWave technology. This technology offers users incredibly fast speeds but the biggest flaw is that the signal is easily disrupted and doesn’t travel very far. When you look at Verizon’s coverage map, you can see that the 5G signal can only be found in dense urban areas along the streets. This leads us into the bigger issue, Verizon claims that it has 5G coverage in 35 cities and while this is true, it misleads the consumer to believe that they would have the same coverage city-wide when in reality they won’t. The NAD said, “people from midtown Manhattan to downtown Denver can experience what your 5G can deliver.” The NAD also argued that these advertising claims imply that 5G coverage is available nationwide, even noting that Verizon, “does not dispute that its current 5G service is limited.” 

On to the NAD’s second issue, the speeds Verizon claimed customers could experience. In the ads, Verizon promotes that users can get 2 GB in LA or 1.7 GB in Houston. Although during testing environments that may be true, the NAD noted that there isn’t enough evidence to prove that customers would experience these speeds in a normal setting. Verizon was told that they aren’t clear on their 5G network limitations and it would completely mislead customers. 

The NAD said, “Verizon should ensure that its advertising clearly and conspicuously communicates to consumers the relevant, material limitations of its current network.” 

While Verizon will comply with the issues brought up by the NAD, the carrier doesn’t completely agree with their recommendations. The Verge reached out to Verizon for clarification of which part of the claims they disagreed with, but no one was available to comment back. However, a Verizon spokesperson did tell Ars Technica that the ads the NAD took issue were no longer running as of a few months ago, but the recommendations could impact future ads.

Verizon is not the only carrier to be in hot water over 5G claims, AT&T has received a lot of flack over their use of the “5GE” on both their smartphone logo and advertisements. The National Advertising Review Board (NARB) asked that the company stop using the “5G Evolution” branding for its 4G networks because it generated a lot of customer confusion into thinking they had 5G when they did not. AT&T agreed to stop promoting 5GE in its ads but that the company would not remove the “5GE” logo on all AT&T smartphones. 

Source: The Verge