The National Advertising Division, an industry body that self-regulates the advertising industry, has recommended that Sprint stop saying that its unlimited plan is better than Verizon’s. The ruling came about after Verizon challenged claims that Sprint made in three Sprint TV ads, which took aim at Verizon’s overall unlimited experience. The ads aren’t on the air any more, but Sprint says it will bear the ruling in mind for future ads.

One of the more serious claims that Sprint made in its ad isn’t new, and was actually first leveled by T-Mobile. Data from third-party crowdsourced tests suggest that Verizon’s network has slowed down since the introduction of unlimited data, something that Verizon disputes. The NAD sided with Verizon in this case, concluding that third-party testing may not be representative of the average user.

The full list of Sprint accusations considered by the NAD was:

  • Verizon’s network has been slowing down since it began offering unlimited data services.
  • Sprint’s cellular network has “more spectrum for the future” than Verizon’s cellular network.
  • Verizon’s unlimited plan costs “twice as much” as Sprint Unlimited.
  • “If you’re already here paying twice as much for [Verizon’s] unlimited plan, why not hop on over and waste your money with us, too?”
  • Verizon’s cellular phone services are “twice the price” of Sprint’s.
  • Sprint Unlimited offers a better overall “unlimited” experience and performance than Verizon’s unlimited Service.
  • Sprint Unlimited provides faster speeds than Verizon’s unlimited service.
  • Verizon shortchanges its customers by enticing consumers to sign up for its unlimited service and then providing them with lower network speeds.
  • Verizon’s network does not have the capacity to support high-quality unlimited service and to meet future demands.
  • Verizon’s unlimited plan costs twice as much as Sprint Unlimited, regardless of the number of lines and its cellular phone services, in general, cost twice as much as Sprint’s.

The NAD made a number of recommendations to Sprint as a result of its investigation, most notably that it should stop claiming its overall “unlimited” experience is better, and implying that Sprint’s services are always half the price, regardless of the number of lines on an account. Sprint’s claim that its four-line unlimited service was half the price was upheld.

A recommendation from the NAD isn’t legally binding, and the watchdog says that “decisions finding that advertising claims have been substantiated should not be construed as endorsements.” Nonetheless, you can expect Verizon to at least quietly chalk this up as another finding that its network is the best.

“While Sprint respectfully disagrees that the independent, third-party data it provided was insufficient to support its claim that there was a slowdown in Verizon’s download speeds in the period following the introduction of Verizon’s unlimited plan, Sprint will take NAD’s guidance into account when using all available data sources, including crowd-sourced speed test data, for future advertising,” the company said in a statement.

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