Commentary

Whose Wireless Claims Are More Reliable, Er, Dependable?

boxing gloves/Verizon-Sprint

The battle over who has the better 3G network is no longer a head-to-head battle between Verizon Wireless and AT&T. Verizon has dragged Sprint into the melee, challenging the smaller carrier's ad claim to have the "most dependable" 3G network.

Backing Verizon's complaint, the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus Tuesday recommended that Sprint stop running ads with the "most dependable" claim. Citing Nielsen's most recent "drive tests" of wireless data services, the NAD ruled Verizon had fewer dropped calls and performed better in terms of session reliability.

Sprint said it planned to appeal the decision. Earlier this year, AT&T a filed a challenge with the NAD over Verizon ads boasting the carrier has "America's most reliable" 3G network. That dispute is now pending in federal court in New York after Verizon filed an action seeking a ruling on the truthfulness and accuracy of its ad claims.

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Verizon won a separate court ruling last week when a federal judge in Atlanta denied AT&T's request for a temporary restraining order to halt Verizon's campaign featuring red and blue maps showing the carrier has five times more 3G coverage than AT&T.

T-Mobile must feel left out. The smallest of the four major U.S. carriers only started rolling out its 3G network last year and isn't about to boast about having the most reliable or fastest network. Especially after the Sidekick service outage debacle.

But it does try to compete with the other three on pricing. Its currently touts its new Even More Plus plans as half the price of comparable Verizon or AT&T plans. But the claim on its site also comes with an asterisk directing users to the fine print below explaining the assertion more fully. That might just save T-Mobile from getting hauled before the NAD or worse. But given the intense competition among the biggest wireless operators, don't bank on it.

1 comment about "Whose Wireless Claims Are More Reliable, Er, Dependable?".
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  1. Guy Powell from ProRelevant Marketing Solutions, November 25, 2009 at 4:52 p.m.

    Don't you just love competition? This back and forth goes to the core of capitalism and how brands can compete both in the media, in PR and in the courts. It is a wonderful case study to see how non-traditional, highly comparative advertising can create a firestorm of messages surrounding the advertising. It reminds me of the very successful cat fight ad's from Miller Brewing Company and the firestorm of PR that they brought up. The only dimension missing there was the court dimension.

    It will be interesting to see how Sprint and T-Mobile can survive without access to the network or the highly valuable mobile devices.

    As a marketing effectiveness and measurement consultant I would love to see how much more/less revenue was garnered by the three brands due to this series of advertisements.

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