Argument over fastest network spreads to Internet

MONTREAL — The argument over who has the “fastest and most reliable” network has spread to Internet services.

MONTREAL — The argument over who has the “fastest and most reliable” network has spread to Internet services.

Atlantic Canada telecom operator Bell Aliant (TSX:BA.UN) is asking a New Brunswick court to stop Rogers Communications Inc. (TSX:RCI.B) from advertising that it has the fastest Internet services in the country.

Rogers’ claims are misleading to consumers in New Brunswick and “no longer accurate,” spokeswoman Isabelle Robinson said Monday.

Robinson said that Bell Aliant has a “superior” advanced broadband network for its Internet service.

Bell Aliant’s claims have not been proven in court.

“We made our advertising claims based on the fact that there’s nothing really out there today that compares,” Robinson said.

Rogers wasn’t immediately available for comment Monday on the lawsuit.

Rogers advertises on its website that it offers the “fastest and most reliable” Internet service.

Late fall, Rogers duked it out in court with Bell Mobility (TSX:BCE) in a separate dispute over whom had the “fastest and most reliable” wireless network in the country.

The courts ruled that both companies were to omit the claims in their future wireless advertising.

Robinson said if successful in court, she doesn’t believe that Bell Aliant will follow Rogers’ advertising strategy.

“We have been advertising it as the most advanced broadband network available,” she said. “That really hasn’t been the advertising platform that we have used at this point.”

Bell Aliant’s website says it has the “fastest Internet speeds.”

Bell Aliant has said it plans to expand its advanced broadband network this year, more than doubling spending on fibre-to-the-home technology to $65 million in 2010 compared with 2009.

The company expects the advanced technology for Internet and high-definition TV services to cover more than 140,000 more homes by the end of the year in New Brunswick.

“We want to make sure that our customers have the facts about the Internet speeds and reliability in order to make an informed choice in a very competitive market,” Robinson said.

The Halifax-based telecom said it is asking the court for an immediate injunction against Rogers from making the claims. It says it tried to work out changes with Rogers before taking legal action, but was unsuccessful.

Quebec-based cable provider Cogeco (TSX:CCA) was the subject of a complaint about advertising it had the “fastest” Internet speeds in two regional markets.

The federal Competition Bureau ruled that Cogeco’s claims for promoting its Internet services to residents in Drummondville and St-Hyacinthe, both east of Montreal, were misleading.

The federal watchdog recently said he claims were misleading under its legislation because consumers couldn’t compare the speed of Cogeco’s services with those of competitors and there was no way to verify the claims.