AT&T Sues Verizon Alleging Misleading "There's A Map For That" Ads

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