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Board recommends Frontier stop claims in ads

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A national advertising board has sided with Suddenlink Communications and asked Frontier Communications to stop claiming its broadband speeds are faster and more secure than cable.

The board also said Frontier should quit airing radio ads that claim cable providers like Suddenlink do not have a 100 percent U.S.-based workforce.

The National Advertising Review Board announced its decisions against Frontier Tuesday.

The board, administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus, is an appellate unit of the advertising industry's system of self-regulation.

The decision was an appeal of a decision by the industry's investigative unit, the National Advertising Division.

The division ruled in October that some of the claims Frontier used comparing its DSL service to Suddenlink's cable-based service were false.

Suddenlink had taken issue with Frontier claims that DSL offers customers a "dedicated" Internet line as opposed to cable, where customers must "share" an Internet line with "the whole neighborhood" resulting in slower and less reliable Internet access.

"Unlike a cable connection that's shared by multiple homes, your Frontier connection is yours alone," Frontier ads said. "Frontier Fast High-Speed Internet is ... a dedicated connection that won't bog down during peak hours. There's no neighborhood sharing."

Frontier had also claimed the cable-based service was less secure than DSL.

In its initial decision, the National Advertising Division found there is "no reasonable basis to conclude that that the typical cable user has a materially and meaningfully slower and less consistent Internet experience than a DSL consumer."

The review board upheld this decision.  

"Following its review of the evidence, the five-person NARB panel recommended that Frontier discontinue claims that communicate a message that Frontier's "dedicated" Internet connection is faster or more reliable than cable," the board said in a statement.

The board also recommended that Frontier discontinue claims that communicate a message that Frontier DSL provides superior privacy and security compared to cable.

The panel also scrutinized Frontier radio ads that implied cable Internet providers don't have a 100 percent U.S.-based workforce or local managers.

While Suddenlink was bought out last year by a group of investors that included the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, the NARB found that both Frontier and Suddenlink both have 100 percent U.S.-based workers.

The board also said Suddenlink has local managers in areas where it competes with Frontier.

The panel said Frontier should discontinue claims implying cable providers do not have an all-U.S. based workforce unless they can show a significant portion of cable providers in areas where the advertisement is disseminated do not.  

Frontier spokesman Dan Page said that while the company disagrees with the NARB's analysis and conclusions, it "intends to take into consideration the panel's recommendations in developing future high-speed Internet advertisements."

"We are determined to compete rather than complain about other companies - especially a Canadian-owned cable company like Suddenlink," Page said.

Page also said it wasn't surprising Suddenlink filed the complaint "because cable companies know they are losing market share to Frontier and our superior services, which are the result of our huge investment in West Virginia."

Contact writer Jared Hunt at or 304-348-4836.



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