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Cable Technology Feature Article

March 27, 2009

National Advertising Division Tells Cablevision to Play Nice

By Jessica Kostek, TMCnet Channel Editor

Cablevision Systems Corp. was advised by the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus that the company should either modify or discontinue advertisement phrases of their Internet service being "the fastest around," or that their service is “five times faster,” and that "everything else is stuck in the past," after being challenged from competitor Verizon (News - Alert) Communications Inc.
Like other cable companies, Cablevision uses optical fiber in its network but connects homes with coaxial cable, not optical fiber. Cablevision's Optimum (News - Alert) Online Internet service has a maximum download speed of 30 megabits per second while FiOS can do 50 megabits per second.
The NAD announced Thursday that Cablevision voluntarily discontinued certain claims prior to or during the course of the ad group's investigation, including "best HD picture," "sharpest HD picture and sound," "Number One for Speed," "America's Fastest Home Internet Access," and the use of the "five times faster" claim in direct marketing to Verizon FiOS (News - Alert) customers.
Verizon's new FiOS service, which competes with Cablevision in New York and New Jersey, does draw optical fiber all the way to homes however, cable companies around the country have been claiming in ads that their networks "are fiber" as a way to counter Verizon's marketing, according to the Associated Press.
The NAD did allow Cablevision was free to say that it has an "advanced hybrid fiber optic network." Cablevision said it "appreciates NAD's careful consideration of the issues in this matter" and "agrees to take into account NAD's findings in this inquiry in future advertising."
Spokesman Jim Maiella noted that the NAD supported Cablevision's claim that its cable modems are up to five times faster than Verizon's DSL service, which predates FiOS.
Officials also commented, "It is worth noting that in this and other recent proceedings, the NAD has firmly supported a number of Cablevision's marketing statements, including the fact that our high-speed Internet service is up to five times faster than phone company high-speed Internet and that all of our services are provided over an advanced network, while rejecting a number of Verizon's positions including their unfounded claims of HD picture superiority."
Cablevision challenged Verizon's advertising claims for FiOS last year and the NAD recommended, among other things, that Verizon stop claiming that FiOS produced a TV picture that's "so much more bright," because the brightness of a TV picture depends on the settings of the TV, not on the signal.

Jessica Kostek is a channel editor for TMCnet, covering VoIP, CRM, call center and wireless technologies. To read more of Jessica’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jessica Kostek