Verizon (in red) and AT&T (in blue) 3G Coverage   desperate: Being filled with, or in a state of despair; hopeless. Reckless abandon in the pursuit of an extreme desire. Re-read number 2 again, if you will.   I ‘ll wait. Thanks.   That definition perfectly defines AT&T ‘s recent legal action against Verizon seeking a temporary […]
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Op/Ed: 3G Coverage, Lawsuits, and You

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Verizon (in red) and AT&T (in blue) 3G Coverage

 

desperate:

  1. Being filled with, or in a state of despair; hopeless.
  2. Reckless abandon in the pursuit of an extreme desire.

Re-read number 2 again, if you will.   I ‘ll wait.

Thanks.   That definition perfectly defines AT&T ‘s recent legal action against Verizon seeking a temporary restraining order against Verizon ‘s latest round of commercials; commercials in which Verizon points out that they have five times the amount of 3G coverage throughout the United States.   In reading the original complaint and Verizon ‘s answer, one is left to wonder how AT&T ever thought that they might prevail in court; my short list of possible scenarios began with ‘pay off the judge ‘ and went downhill from there.

Essentially, AT&T claimed that consumers would be confused into thinking that they could not make phone calls anywhere that there was no 3G coverage.  With the holiday (buying) season rapidly approaching, AT&T hoped to put a little coal in Verizon ‘s stocking.  This ‘reckless abandon in the pursuit of an extreme desire ‘ backfired, however.

Verizon ‘s well reasoned response pointed out that everything in their ads is true (and, incidentally, is undisputed by AT&T).   They do have five times the 3G coverage, and the ads never say that calls cannot be made in non-3G areas; in fact they generally depict users obviously using data functions (and becoming irritated when not in a 3G area).   The response contained the now oft-quoted summary: ‘The truth hurts ‘.   Despite the legally informal prose, this hits the nail on the head squarely “ AT&T absolutely looks desperate to hide the truth; their 3G network is absolutely five times smaller.

However, the big white elephant in the room that apparently both sides have forgotten is:

Who cares?

AT&T ‘s coverage may be five times smaller, but it ‘s present where it matters most “ where most people live.    Just as in the initial cellular rollouts some twenty-odd years ago, the carriers built where the people were; wisely spending dollars where there were people to spend them (and revenue to both recoup investment and fund additional expansion).   In places like Billings, Montana, cell service didn ‘t even exist for some years after New Yorkers were already debating the risks of brain cancer.   Similarly, AT&T built their 3G coverage starting with the major population centers.   The vast majority of cell phone users spend the vast majority of their time within an hour ‘s drive from home; so it makes sense to prioritize infrastructure development where the most people live “ which is precisely what AT&T has done.

In reviewing my business travel in the time since I bought the iPhone 3G, I cannot think of anyplace I went to that did NOT have 3G coverage.   In fact, the only place that I can even determine that I went to and did not have 3G coverage was a lonely stretch of I-75 and I-10 in northern Florida “ and I didn ‘t even notice; I was busy driving.  However, I could have absolutely made a phone call if I needed to, and surfed with “ gasp “ Edge at a reduced speed if required.   I hardly think I was inconvenienced, and quite frankly, the fact that I can get 3G coverage in Petroleum County, MT (pop. 493) doesn ‘t influence my purchasing decisions.  To be a bit indelicate, I don ‘t think such matters weigh heavily on the minds of the fine citizens of those and dozens of other similarly-unpopulated places.

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Verizon 3G Coverage Map of Petroleum County, MT.

 

AT&T has now countered with a more meaningful ad, highlighting two differences between the two networks that really do make a difference: The ability to talk and surf simultaneously (read ‘the ability to receive a call while surfing instead of having it go to voicemail without ringing ‘) and the faster 3G speed.    These absolutely get my attention much more so than 3G coverage in places I likely will never visit.

In the end, what matters the most to a consumer is if the product or service does both what is required of it and what is promised by it.   For me, the iPhone and AT&T ‘s 3G coverage does that “ both where I live and where my stateside travels have taken me.   Verizon ‘s larger 3G footprint adds nothing to that “ a message that AT&T should probably use to salve the corporate sting it is now feeling.

Note: The opinions stated herein are those of the author alone, and do not necessarily represent the views of the entire Just Another iPhone Blog team.  However, the author is really, really, really sure that they agree.  Trust him.

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