AT&T Sues Verizon Alleging Misleading “There’s A Map For That” Ads

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AT&T is suing Verizon, alleging the latter's "There A Map For That" commercial misleads customers into thinking that AT&T doesn't offer coverage across large portions of the U.S. As part of the suit, AT&T is asking for a temporary restraining order against Verizon asking that the ads be pulled.

In that commercial (see below), Verizon shows side by side maps of AT&T's 3G network and Verizon's 3G network, maps that clearly show Verizon as having the much larger 3G network. AT&T's network, however, also offers 2G coverage over just as much of the U.S., and the company thinks customers are being mislead into thinking you can't get AT&T service outside the areas shown in blue (see below).


Screenshot from Verizon's ad showing side-by-side 3G network maps.
Screenshot from Verizon's ad showing side-by-side 3G network maps.

AT&T told Engadget, which broke the story, "In essence, we believe the ads mislead consumers into believing that AT&T doesn't offer ANY wireless service in the vast majority of the country. In fact, AT&T's wireless network blankets the US, reaching approximately 296M people. Additionally, our 3G service is available in over 9,600 cities and towns. Verizon's misleading advertising tactics appear to be a response to AT&T's strong leadership in smartphones. We have twice the number of smartphone customers... and we've beaten them two quarters in a row on net post-paid subscribers. We also had lower churn -- a sign that customers are quite happy with the service they receive."

Engadget also pointed out that Verizon had added text-disclaimers to their ads saying that 2G coverage is available outside AT&T's 3G zones, but those disclaimers apparently aren't enough for AT&T, which wants the ads pulled.

What the suit is not complaining about is Verizon's actual characterization of AT&T's 3G network - it is as small as the map shows. That makes the commercial accurate in an apples-to-apples way (pun intended), though it doesn't necessarily tell the whole story. iPhone 3G ad iPhone 3Gs can be used on AT&T's large, but slower EDGE network.


Verizon's "There A Map For That" commercial

Comments

Khaled

Gotta love ad wars,just like the ads by our local telcos

Nemo

“There’s a lawsuit for that.”  I love that.

Bryan Chaffin

I’d guess that these ads have hit home in customer perception, but it’s just a guess.

XSemperIdem5

The commercial seems to be about 3G coverage and AT&T admits that the 3G map is correct. VZW is not claiming to have greater 2G coverage.
Eh, I don’t really care. I’ll stick to the service that works for me. It just happens to be VZW. wink

diverreb

Instead of suing why doesn’t AT&T go out & put 3G up coverage to match!  Stop whining, do something about it…  I came off Verizon to get the iPhone, and around here, Verizon has much better coverage of both 2G & 3G!!!

daemon

If you can’t beat ‘em sue ‘em?

Lee Dronick

If you can?t beat ?em sue ?em?

A lie repeated often enough becomes the truth. If AT&T has a valid point then they need to defend it. Didn’t Apple sue, or otherwise compel, MicroSoft to change one of the Windows Hunter ads?

Norm

I have an iphone, but I think Verizon is totally on target telling everyone their 3G network is 5 times larger than AT&T, AT&T sucks, when you can’t even call from inside a house on the AT&T network but your girlfriend can sit right next to you in the same house and make calls out on Verizon, then Verizon is justified.

Verizon needs to call me as a witness, their ads are perfectly clear, 5X better 3G coverage, even the ad above keeps stating 3G coverage, they aren’t deceiving anyone.

nealg

Some questions about this 3g coverage issue.

Is it possible that although ATT has less square miles of coverage, their network has better bandwidth in the places where people use their iPhones? Can it be that Verizon has more areas covered but they don’t have as much bandwidth available so that if you have a few users in Montana, they will overwhelm the local network. Is it possible that ATT’s buildout of its 3G network is in areas where most of the iPhone users are?

No matter what, the ads do embarrass ATT’s coverage.

Neal

Terrin Bell

I really dislike AT&T, but I actually agree with it on this one. First, the disclaimers are very small and are only briefly shown. If you are looking at the maps, you aren’t going to have time to read the disclaimers in the second or two they are shown. Further, many people only listen to commercials. They aren’t going to read the disclaimers. Second, I think the maps does make it seem like AT&T doesn’t offer coverage in a lot of the Country. Verizon solidifies this by talking about dropped AT&T calls in the commercials. If the point is AT&T only lacks 3G coverage in the Country, the dropped calls should not be relevant.

Terrin Bell

Yes, but 3G isn’t necessary for calling purposes if you are in AT&T’s 2G network. 3G relates to being able to carry heavier data quicker (e.g. video) necessary for all the extra things smart phones do. If you are experiencing dropped calls, it has nothing to do with AT&T’s 3G network because your call is going over AT&T’s 2G network.

The ad is misleading because most people aren’t going to know the difference between 2G and 3G networks. So when Verizon says AT&T doesn’t have 3G coverage in a particular area they are going to think AT&T doesn’t have any network there because of linking up the dropped calls example with the lack of a 3G network.

That is the impression I got when I saw the commercials.

I have an iphone, but I think Verizon is totally on target telling everyone their 3G network is 5 times larger than AT&T, AT&T sucks, when you can?t even call from inside a house on the AT&T network but your girlfriend can sit right next to you in the same house and make calls out on Verizon, then Verizon is justified.

daemon

Yes, but 3G isn?t necessary for calling purposes if you are in AT&T?s 2G network.

3G is used for calling purposes because it can handle more calls at once.

Example 850 mhz band (25 mhz used for up and 25 mhz used for down):
GSM   1,529 simultaneous calls in a single cell
EDGE 2,941 simultaneous calls in a single cell
HSDPA 8,470 simultaneous calls in a single cell

For spectrum effeciency alone it makes more sense for AT&T use a 3G network like HSDPA for phone calls than to use one of the 2G standards.

Remember, HSDPA radios are capable of multiple links at the same time allowing for the use of both data and voice simultaneously, whereas GSM/EDGE/CDMA 1x/CDMA Rev. A radios are only capable of handling a single link.

fo

The map isn’t accurate - it doesn’t include my area, and I’ve had 3G for quite awhile now. Odd that ATT doesn’t argue their accuracy.

bousozoku

The ad is misleading because most people aren?t going to know the difference between 2G and 3G networks.

So, when AT&T adverts say that they have the fastest 3G network, people aren’t going to know what that means either?

If that’s the case, there shouldn’t be any advertising because people:

1) don’t listen carefully
2) don’t understand English well in a country where English is the default language
3) think that $3.99 is much lower than $4.00.

AT&T doesn’t even have the 3G coverage Sprint has—probably not what they had in 2006 or 2007—so, AT&T need to stop whining (and suing) and build a network that will be done now, not in 2011.

Lee Dronick

Well according to an ad running on our local TV station, yours too probably, AT&T hates puppies”. Now this has to do with AT&T’s TV service, but it is no less misleading than the 3G coverage.

Norm

AT&T will lose in court. The point is that Verizon has far more 3G coverage than AT&T, they’re not making stuff up. They’re being totally factual in their ads.

Lee Dronick

AT&T will lose in court. The point is that Verizon has far more 3G coverage than AT&T, they?re not making stuff up. They?re being totally factual in their ads.

Have you checked all of the areas where the coverage is in question?

Verizon may have to back up their claims in the court of law. If they can prove it well then good for them, if not… However, it will probably never make it to trial, I suspect an out of court settlement of some sort.

Brutno

This is like a court case where the judge tells the jury to disregard a lawyer’s errant or leading comment. We all know how well that works. It’s a given the lawyer knew exactly what he or she was saying, and why.

Verizon made a tactical move leading up to the Droid launch. Factual or not, they made their point.

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