Commentary

Can You Hear Me Now, Judge?

Verizon Wireless guy

Is Verizon Wireless "America's Most Reliable 3G Network" as it claims in recent ads? The nation's largest (no one disputes that) wireless operator has gone to court seeking a ruling to back up its boast.

Wireless rival AT&T Mobility had challenged Verizon's advertising false and misleading in a filing earlier this month with the National Advertising Division of the Council for Better Business Bureaus.

In papers filed Monday in federal court in Manhattan, Verizon wants the court to find that its ad claims of having "America's Most Reliable 3G Network," "America's Best 3G Network" and "America's Most Reliable Wireless Network" are truthful and accurate.

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Verizon says AT&T's challenge relies on the incorrect assumption that speed is an "essential element" of the standard for gauging network reliability. "AT&T has calculated a new formula for calculating 'reliability' and claims that by applying this newly concocted formula its 3G wireless network has superior 'reliability.'

Verizon also points to internal and third-party studies to support its ad claims, including a PC Magazine test of the national 3G networks which ranked Verizon highest in call quality and network quality.

AT&T's challenge focusing on network speed looks like a stretch. Mobile users generally associate reliability with not having to deal with dropped calls or a lack of service depending on where your are. Network speed seems like a luxury by comparison. And if AT&T's 3G service is so reliable, why are so many mobile consumers hoping for a Verizon iPhone?

Perhaps the judge in this case can perform a simple test of their own, comparing service from the major wireless carriers to resolve the matter. Since the case is in New York, though, that could favor Verizon, which came out on top for service in the city in Consumer Reports' most recent ratings of wireless carriers. Of course, that was true for all but a few of the 23 cities nationwide in which the magazine tested wireless service.

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