T-Mobile told to modify post-merger 5G network claims by ad group


When T-Mobile finally completed its merger with Sprint, it made commitments for things like “building the world’s best broad and deep nationwide 5G network.” It turns out that another major US carrier took issue with some of T-Mo’s pledges.

The National Advertising Division has weighed in on several claims made by T-Mobile about its post-merger network benefits that were challeneged by Verizon. The NAD, a self-regulatory group that’s part of BBB National Programs, found that some of T-Mobile’s future-based claims were supported but it also recommended that T-Mo modify some others.

After reviewing the claims, the NAD says that T-Mobile provided a reasonable basis for claims that it “will build America’s largest…5G network” and that “we’re building a 5G network that will deliver unprecedented reach…” and that Verizon’s evidence against these claims was insufficient.

However, the NAD took issue with claims made by T-Mobile such as “you’ll get the best 5G network” and “you’ll get the…most reliable network.” The NAD argues that consumers could interpret these claims to mean that this “best network” will imminently be available to most T-Mobile customers, and so the NAD recommends that T-Mo modify its advertising to avoid conveying these messages.

The NAD also concluded that claims about the benefits of the T-Mobile-Sprint merger, combined with images like the one you see at the top of this post with magenta and yellow beams shooting from tower to tower, could reasonably convey the message that T-Mo’s touted merger benefits will be imminently realized by consumers.

T-Mobile has told the NAD that it “supports the self-regulatory process and will comply with the NAD’s recommendations.” When asked about the NAD’s decision, a T-Mobile spokesperson gave TmoNews the following statement:

“T-Mobile has & will continue to build the largest 5G network with the most 5G coverage – and NAD agreed that we can continue to share that with consumers.”

T-Mo has been rolling out lots of new mid-band 5G coverage lately using the 2.5GHz spectrum that it got as part of its merger with Sprint. This is helping to boost 5G coverage and speeds, and T-Mo has said that it plans to deploy a lot more mid-band 5G before 2020 is over. T-Mo may tout this improved 5G coverage in ads like this one, but because of the NAD’s new recommendations, it may choose to be a bit more careful about the wording it uses in those future ads.

Source: National Advertising Division

Tags: , , ,

  • Zach C

    How about bite me NAD?

  • Bumblebee

    Cancel culture

  • Francisco Peña

    “mages like the one you see at the top of this post with magenta and yellow beams shooting from tower to tower, could reasonably convey the message that T-Mo’s touted merger benefits will be imminently realized by consumers.”

    Then people are idiots.

  • marque2

    So if you tout that you have a good product and your competitor objects because they don’t, they can have your ads censured?

    Seems like the BBB is doing a bit of an overreach. It might be that Verizon donates more to the organization (lots of BBB ratings scandals based on lack of donating.)

    • slybacon

      It’s more along the lines of a company claiming that they will eventually have a good network once combined, but making it sound like the good network is available now.

      • marque2

        Possibly. But Verizon has almost no 5g – how do they even know that Tmobile’s is good or poor now, when they have nothing? Tmobile currently does have the industry best 5g in the USA (and I admit it is still mostly hype)

  • Shaun Michalak

    Usually I would feel that NAD is being a prick, but in this case, I would have to agree with them.. Like the one where they show beams reaching from tower to tower.. Even without the merger, this would imply that they have coverage, tower to tower.. But the fact is, we all know how bad T-Mobile is about having dead spots in the middle of 2 towers, especially outside of main cities..

    I think we have all seen all the complaints about how many problems people have had with 5G service, and the fact that in a lot of places, and cities, they only have band 71, aka 5G installed on half of the towers.. So saying “best 5G network”, and “most reliable” is kind of deceiving.. I guess when they were the only ones with any 5G up, then they could say that, but since AT&T put up 5G on their towers, T-Mobile just does not have enough band 41 installed yet to even try to brag about it yet..

    Verizon.. Well they are just sharing their 4 and 5G off of the same spectrum, while not installing any new spectrum, so all that Verizon has to brag about is the fact that they can put a 5G logo on the phone.

    • Glenn Gore

      Yep, it is good to finally see some truth-in-advertising oversight being done on these companies. The average consumer does not know or care about some arcane industry-standard definition of “nationwide”, they just look at a coverage map and see a dot of 5G or whatever coverage hundreds of miles from their location, which could actually be in a city of half a million people and marvel at the gall of the company to claim “nationwide service”, knowing it will be years, if ever, that their location might get that coverage.

      • Shaun Michalak

        Well, here is a thought for you.. People are claiming that 5G is not really 5G because they can not reach true speeds of 5G.. Verizon is advertising that they have 5G done right.. But at the same time, their 5G uses the same frequency as their 4G, because they have nothing new to offer in additional bandwidth or frequency to up their speeds.. In fact, Verizon is the only one that has done nothing to get upper levels, above 2ghz, for bandwidth, that is not mmWave, for service, and speeds on their towers.. But they have 5G done right?? when they are the ones that have the least capacity of the big 3 now.. But theirs is done “right” as they claim.. Kind of makes you wonder.. lol

        • Glenn Gore

          Yes, I am not quite sure what “done right” means in regards to 5G. I certainly know that it is not millimeter-wave, as I question the utility of that spectrum for any real-world purpose. There are just too many limitations, like outdoors-only right now. That’s just not useful imho.

          And as for low-band, with the latency and other benefits, it might prove to be acceptable for most purposes in far-reaching use cases, but certainly not for Speedtest bragging sessions.

          Mid-band may prove to be the best “done right” option, for both long-reach and speed. All of the carriers have done really well in making Band 2, 4, AWS, and other similar-frequencies work really well and reaching far out from the sites, to the point of having the same reach as low-band, so T-Mobile might have some real success with the Sprint spectrum if they roll it out across their entire system.

        • Shaun Michalak

          You will have to ask Verizon about the “done right” part.. You are right with Verizon that it is not mmWave.. On their towers, right now, they only have band 13, or 700mhz on 5G.. That is why it makes me laugh at the statement, “done right”.. People condemned T-Mobile up one side, and down the other, that their 5G was not fast because it relied on band 71.. But in that aspect, Verizon is no better with it only having it on band 13..

          I agree with your low band comment and speedtest bragging..

          I think you have it half right with the reach in mid band part.. At least not on the Sprint end.. The way that they had their mid band set up was horrible.. The reach and everything with them was bad.. But the other companies did a good job.. So I will agree that T-Mobile will do a good job at getting their 2.5ghz with a good range too.. I love the fact that they are using band 71 to use for return signals, so they can use the band 41 for faster speeds to deliver the faster speeds, but still get the signal back at the more reliable band 71 if the band 41 signal is not very good coming from the cell phones end.. Great idea to use from T-Mobile to help fix things some..

          I think that most of these companies are waiting for those 3ghz auctions in December to really boost and apply them to their 5G, and I think that is what all those companies are waiting for and relying on right now..