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AT&T Loses First Legal Battle Against Verizon 214

Posted by Soulskill
from the is-there-an-app-for-that dept.
FutureDomain writes "A federal judge in Atlanta has declined a restraining order from AT&T that would have prevented Verizon from running ads that compared their 3G coverage to AT&T's. AT&T felt that Verizon's ads 'mislead consumers into thinking that AT&T doesn't offer wireless service in large portions of the country, which is clearly not the case.' Verizon argued that the ads clearly indicated that the maps were only of 3G coverage, and that AT&T is only suing because it doesn't want to face the truth about its network."
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AT&T Loses First Legal Battle Against Verizon

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  • by Rockoon (1252108) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @09:41AM (#30155300)
    Can you hear us now?
    Can you hear us now?
    Can you hear us now?
    • No my cellphone's turned off so I don't get annoying phone calls that waste my money.

      "Verizon argued that the ads clearly indicated that the maps were only of 3G coverage, and that AT&T is only suing because it doesn't want to face the truth about its network."

      How sad for the late, great monopoly AT&T. They once controlled virtually the entire U.S. phone network, and now they are falling to a distant last place. I almost feel sorry for them.

      Ok that's enough.
      Let's break-up the Comcast monopoly next.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Coren22 (1625475)

        Well, when Bell was split up it became Verizon, so I guess you have two monopolies beating their heads against each other there.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Rockoon (1252108)
          ..and AT&T was purchased by SBC Communications (a baby bell), which then changed its name to AT&T.
          • by ChromaticDragon (1034458) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @10:53AM (#30156276)

            Oh it's a lot more convoluted than that.

            For all intents and purposes when you think of the AT&T monopoly of yore, actually Verizon is more of that than the current incarnation of AT&T that is entertaining us today with this legal battle.

            First, AT&T was divested. The monopoly part became mini-monopolies - the Baby Bells. They were still almost exclusively the only show in town for what they did (local telephony). AT&T actually had to compete at that point, on several fronts. Long Distance became a highly competitive arena over time. And the part that made telephony infrastructure equipment could no longer simply dictate to the local phone companies what they were gonna buy.

            The first wave of Wireless in the US was a mandated duopoly. Each area got two licenses for wireless service providers. The "B" band went to the established phone company while the "A" band was up for grabs. The "B" side was often termed the "wireline" side because they were established companies already. Gradually, a large chunk of the upstart "A" side companies coalesced into McCaw. Before the "B" side companies started merging, McCaw was actually bigger than most.

            Eventually AT&T bought McCaw and became or created AT&T Wireless.

            The game changed with lots more licenses and more players.

            SBC bought up Ameritech, then AT&T and then changed it's name to AT&T.

            In all of that, if you restrict your view to the Wireless stuff Verizon is much more directly a descendant of the Baby Bells.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 19, 2009 @09:42AM (#30155306)

    because it's not LIBEL if it's TRUE.

    • by beelsebob (529313) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @10:45AM (#30156132)

      The thing is, the adverts are certainly bending the truth, even if they're not breaking it. The maps of Verizon's network cover *all* their network, because there's no difference between 2.5G/3G on their technology. By contrast, there's a technical difference between EDGE and 3G on AT&T's network.

      The result – the maps show verizon to have coverage and AT&T not, even in areas where (for example) verizon's network runs like crap, and AT&T has excellent 2.5G coverage.

      • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @11:24AM (#30156784) Journal

        Don't agree. After this whole thing blew up I watched the Verizon ads. They make clear they are discussing 3G coverage, not generalized coverage (which would be available almost everywhere).

        Aside -

        Have you ever been to a place without cellphone coverage (and I don't mean because the building's walls are blocking). My digital phone doesn't work in mountainous areas, but my old analog phone seemed to work everywhere. It makes me wish analog was still alive, if only for backup.

        • by Mr. DOS (1276020)

          Have you ever been to a place without cellphone coverage (and I don't mean because the building's walls are blocking).

          Yes. It's called Canada. An utter lack of signal from any major providers can easily be found anywhere around where I live, about 15 minutes away from a town of 10000 people which is, in turn, less than an hour away from Canada's parliament buildings. And this is just regular coverage, not anythingG.

                --- Mr. DOS

        • Don't agree. After this whole thing blew up I watched the Verizon ads. They make clear they are discussing 3G coverage, not generalized coverage (which would be available almost everywhere).

          Aside -

          Have you ever been to a place without cellphone coverage (and I don't mean because the building's walls are blocking). My digital phone doesn't work in mountainous areas, but my old analog phone seemed to work everywhere. It makes me wish analog was still alive, if only for backup.

          I agree, but I have to say I'm glad I don't have to buy and deploy all that cable every time I take a road trip anymore.

      • The purpose of advertising is to bend the truth almost but not quite to the point of breaking in order to promote whatever crap is being whored out to us. Sounds like the advertising agency did its job.
  • by stox (131684) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @09:44AM (#30155334) Homepage

    They were insane to bring this to court. Verizon could not have paid for better advertising. This is going to go down in the book as one of the stupidest moves in business history.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by xtracto (837672)

      This is going to go down in the book as one of the stupidest moves in business history.

      I am sure there's also a map for that!

    • by EraserMouseMan (847479) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @09:58AM (#30155500)
      AT&T is essentially putting the spotlight on it's weakest link by drawing so much attention to this trial. Now everybody will be educated on exactly what's wrong with AT&T today.
      • by clintp (5169)

        With a DVR, I hadn't actually seen the ad in question until I read about the lawsuit. The next time I was flipping through commercials, I made it a point to stop at the Island of Misfit Toys ad to see what the hubbub was about. Good ad.* :)

        The Streisand Effect is alive and well here. You're doing a heckuva job there, AT&T.

        *I am currently a Verizon customer, but am equally biased against all telcos. They can all DIAF.

  • Surprised? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by purpledinoz (573045) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @09:46AM (#30155350)
    Is anyone surprised at this result? Verizon advertises its better 3G coverage. It's true. Simple as that. No more debate necessary.
    • Re:Surprised? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ElSupreme (1217088) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @09:59AM (#30155506)
      More != Better.

      Verizon's EVDO CDMA '3G' network is much slower than the HSDPA GSM '3G' that ATT has.
      Becides Edge is in the '3G' spec, so it should be '3G' too.

      The real problem is that '3G' is 100% meaningless. We should get maximum working bandwidths, then compare them.

      And I really hate Verizon, and dislike ATT. I use T-Mobile. They have worse coverage, but so much better customer service!

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_device_bandwidths#Mobile_telephone_interfaces [wikipedia.org]
      EVDO revA is what Verizon is advertizing. HSDPA is what ATT has. Edge is also technically in the '3G' spec, and well should be shown in the Verizon ads. But honestly 3G doesn't mean shit.
      • Re:Surprised? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by commodore64_love (1445365) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @10:07AM (#30155596) Journal

        >>>Verizon's EVDO CDMA '3G' network is much slower than the HSDPA GSM '3G' that ATT has

        Upon what data do you draw this conclusion? (just curious)

        • Re:Surprised? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 19, 2009 @10:22AM (#30155776)

          Even if it is they aren't advertising that their 3G is faster, just that their 3G is larger than AT&T which is completely true. Verizon upgraded all of their towers to support 3G, AT&T has only upgraded some towers in more concentrated metro areas.

          Verizon is beginning to upgrade towers to 4G next year. And supposedly according to rumors there is another Android phone either on black Friday or mid December along with a bunch of other new smart phones launching throughout December. They are going after AT&T very aggressively.

          • Yes '3G' and OMFG '4G' HOLY SHIT !!!!!111!!11!!1eleven!!!11!!

            3G does NOT MEAN ANYTHING!

            And yes Verizon has upgrade all of it's towers to '3G'. That is because it is just an extention of their '2G' technology.
            They didn't have any large hardware upgrades. It was programming and processing at their sites. ATT/TMoble had to basically install new towers everywhere.

            And Sprint's '4G', which I assume is what Verizon will roll out (both being EVDO), isn't really that much faster than ATT 3G. Sprint advertizes
            • Verizon will be dropping CDMA2000 and going the UMTS route for next gen, and will be using LTE (along with AT&T) for its 4G next year.
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by EQ (28372)
              Actually the 4G they are rolling out is Ericsson's LTE (they won that contract earlier this year, $4billion). LTE smokes HSDPA. >20Mb/s and typical latency of 5ms. So AT&T is still losing that battle.
              • Ok so Verizon, who currently uses EVDO CDMA, is going to beat ATT to 4G by putting in 100% new installations of UMTS towers, and getting LTE running on all of them above 14,000 Kbps, before ATT can use its map (shown in the ads) of EXISTING UMTS towers, and upgrade them to LTE?

                If Verizon jumps to UMTS (which is what LTE is based on) how will they be in front of ATT? Who only needs ground bandwidth, and processing at their existing towers to get 14,000 Kbps? Not to mention they only need software upgrades
              • by sconeu (64226)

                Can anyone explain this alphabet soup?

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          well if you looked at his wiki link....
          verizon:
          1xEV-DO Rev. A 3,100/1,800 kbit/s

          att:
          HSDPA/HSUPA 14,400/5760 kbit/s

          • Oh I see. So Verizon and AT&T are playing games with "3G" terminology and obfuscation. Kinda like in the old days when Sega said their Genesis/Megadrive was faster because it had "bit blasting" (whatever that is) and was "4096 kilobit strong" (in other words the cartridge had a 512 KB ROM).

            The usual FUD that happens when companies compete.

             

            • Well not so much games. 3G was never supposed to indicate speed.

              0G - Radio phones (walkie talkies, CB, and the like)
              1G - Analog cellular phones
              2G - Digital cellular phones (where data was added onto the 'talk' stream)
              3G - Digital cellular phones with data desigend to be accomodated

              Sprint, Verizon have ~1.4 Mbps system, and have the best coverage
              ATT has ~3.5 Mbps "3G" And have OK coverage
              T-Moblie has not specified their speed but probably have 7.2 Mbps, but have limited urban area coverage

              And EDGE
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Coren22 (1625475)

        I believe that ATT themselves consider Edge to be 2.5G, that is what they advertise it as. I would personally say that the speed is more then enough on Verizon, but I'm not goofy about my phone usage and trying to turn it into a TV, so I could be unusual.

      • I guess I'm one of the lucky AT&T customers. I live in S. Florida and it's one of their better coverage areas. Most of my travelling is within Florida and going up I95, the Florida Turnpike or the I-75 I can usually stay connected from Miami to Orlando or Tampa. I did have to call them recently because they kept on billing me for this useless Navigator feature. But the reps were courteous and spoke proper English.

        I did try calling Verizon but their sales department was inept. They disconnected me at

        • by EQ (28372)
          Verizon customer service sucks, and they cripple their phones (Tmobile is tons better to deal with on both fronts). But Verizon's coverage is tons better. Try coming out west in places like Colorado - AT&T has dead spots and slow speeds all over the place while Verizon is rock solid. My friends with Iphones drop calls and have interrupted HS data connections all the time out here.
          • by Space (13455)

            Verizon stopped crippling smart phones a while back. I am posting this message from my Motorola Droid. It has real GPS not VZ Navigator, I can download and install any Android app, etc. This is a "Google Experience" phone which means Verizon can't put limits on the device.

      • Verizon's EVDO CDMA '3G' network is much slower than the HSDPA GSM '3G' that ATT has.

        As an AT&T customer who waits like 10 minutes for text based web pages to appear in edge mode in a supposedly 3g covered area there is NO WAY THIS IS TRUE!

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Hadlock (143607)

          I was a little shocked to find out that slashdot's main page, a "mostly text" page, is anywhere between 500k-950k on my blackberry.

      • I think pretty much everyone would rather have a 2.5 mbit network that mostly works than a 14 mbit network that's mostly vaporware.

        But I agree that all of the "nG" nonsense is so much marketing bull, and getting worse. It used to be simple enough - 0G was non-cellular radiotelephone. 1G was analog. 2G was digital voice. 3G was digital data. Anything beyond that is just fluff, especially the "fractional-G" technologies.

      • by LWATCDR (28044)

        If you are where there is no coverage than yes More==better.
        I am not on AT&T or VZW but I keep hearing about just how bad AT&Ts services is all the time on Engadget and cNet Podcasts so this ad seems really fair to me.
        I use Sprint for the same reason you use T-Mobile.
        They are a lot cheaper, they don't cripple phones, and for me the customer support has been great.
        I good example that I am having problems with my new phone. The battery life just isn't great. I went in and they said that it may be a pr

      • AT&T recently invested $65 to upgrade towers in the SF bay area. This upgrade was to the lower 3G speed. They have plans to upgrade to the higher 3G speed again in "2010".

        http://www.att.com/gen/press-room?pid=4800&cdvn=news&newsarticleid=27561 [att.com]

        I think this illustrates the degree to which AT&T is supporting its new "faster than Verizon" 3G network.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by yolto (178256)

        I'll second that; I'm also a T-Mobile customer (for 7 years now) and their customer service is excellent. I sometimes get slightly irritated on the phone with them because they are SO overly nice and friendly. It's almost sickeningly sweet.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        EVDO revA is what Verizon is advertizing. HSDPA is what ATT has. Edge is also technically in the '3G' spec, and well should be shown in the Verizon ads. But honestly 3G doesn't mean shit.

        If it were possible, I'd love to see the map showing real-world AT&T coverage.

        Seems the usual state of affairs for iPhone users is that they have no signal at all, let alone 3G. And we're talking in major metro areas, here.

        As far as I can tell, in the real world, AT&T has the worst network.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by TheReaperD (937405)

        Becides [sic]Edge is in the '3G' spec, so it should be '3G' too.

        I used to work for AT&T Wireless. AT&T has never referred to their EDGE network as 3G; they have always called it 2.5G. I can't link to the document on it as it is on the company intranet and not accessible for public viewing. But, here's a quote from the AT&T website that clearly states that AT&T does not consider EDGE 3G: In areas where the 3G network is not available, customers will continue to receive service on the AT&T EDGE network, when coverage is available. [att.com]

    • I think the real issue of the lawsuit as it parodies the iPhones "There is an App for that" commercials. But they can't do anything legally about parodies, but the fact that Verizon directly attacked AT&T and used still misleading truth, as it only showed 3G coverage which Verizon does have better service area. But it is different then from voice service or even other formats for digital transmission such as EDGE. Does mislead the customer to think if they go with AT&T that they will have a lot m

      • Re:Surprised? (Score:4, Informative)

        by sjames (1099) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @11:38AM (#30157038) Homepage

        AT&T can't win on the deception since the ads do say the maps are of 3G coverage.

        If that confuses potential customers, it's as much AT&T's fault as Verizon's. They both like tossing acronyms around and both enjoy confusing customers with dizzying itemized bills and plans until people just quit listening at the first term they don't understand.

        I still don't understand why data isn't data. If I pay for data transfer on their net why does it matter if that comes from a laptop connected to the phone (an extra charge) or from an app running on the phone itself? Are the bits fatter?

    • Lucky they're in the US, where the truth is an absolute defence against libel and slander. Were they in the UK, Verizon might actually be in trouble.

  • by tjstork (137384) <todd.bandrowsky@nosPAm.gmail.com> on Thursday November 19, 2009 @09:48AM (#30155372) Homepage Journal

    The unfortunate problem with a deregulated economic system is that, companies want to use deregulation but the power to enforce contracts as a way to not have to compete. Libertarian ideas about competition are just as utopian as socialist ideas about cooperation simply because the smartest thing for a company to do is to not have to spend money and take the sort of risks needed to actually compete. They confine themselves to areas they can patent, they make principals sign non-competes and non-disclosures, obfuscate the relationship between pricing and product all so they can minimize how much they have to actually compete. IF we are to say that companies are to have the means of giving themselves monopolies, then it is fair for liberals to demand that companies accept certain social obligations in exchange for that letters patent effectively granted by the government. Only if companies do not accept the government's help in reducing competition, can they morally make the claim that they are free market and should not be interfered with by the government. Only as much as conservatives demand companies have less monopoly powers can they demand that the government have less power over the companies too.

    • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @10:11AM (#30155646) Journal

      >>>enforce contracts as a way to not have to compete. Libertarian ideas about competition are just as utopian as socialist ideas about cooperation

      I agree, but you forget that you don't "have" to sign contracts. I didn't have a contract with my old Cingular/AT&T service, nor do I have one with my new VirginMobile service. I also don't have a contract with Netscape ISP, or Dish Network. I *chose* not to take their offered contracts, and you could do the same, if you don't like being locked-in for 1-2 years.

         

      • Good point. I don't think most people realize you don't have to sign the contract. However, you usually lsoe all the "free" goodies they are offering to sign up. If you are willing to pay up front for a cell phone, equipment, etc, you normally don't have to sign any long term contracts. It is usually best to compare how much you would pay up front to how much terminating your contract would be,

      • by sjames (1099)

        Of course! You can go live in a cave and never have to sign a contract of any sort!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Sandbags (964742)

        Yup, you chose to pay a LOT more over time for something you have not abandoned either, in leiu of risking a much smaller cancelation fee...

        You have a 30 day window in your contract to cancel anyway. If it works for you for 30 days, you;re likely to keep it a year. If in year 2 you want to leave, it's a $150 fee (prorated even lower depending on the contract). I just paid $74 to end my wife's Verizon contract.

        I be you;re paying at leats a $10 per month premium for your "choice." I'ts not like you CAN'T

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      You are correct in that a free market cannot exist in the presence of monopolies but that does not mean they need to be regulated. It means they need to be broken up. About competition, you really don't think AT&T and Verizon are competing right now or that AT&T + iPhone didn't drive Verizon to partner with other companies to produce Droid? o.O One of us does not know what the word competition means.
    • by photon317 (208409)

      Patents are not part of the libertarian ideal, therefore your logic fails.

    • by Hadlock (143607)

      Most cell carriers change at least one part of their contract (i.e. sms, mms fees) at least once a year. If you're at all aware, you can opt out of your contract based on the modification of the contract when they make these changes. T-Mobile upped their fees back in June or so of this year; a bunch of people I knew on T-Mobile jumped ship for the iPhone wagon with no early termination fees.

  • by blcamp (211756) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @09:48AM (#30155378) Homepage

    IMHO both companies's customer service are horrible, so it's irrelevant to me how good or bad their respective networks are.

    They may "hear me now"... but neither has been willing to LISTEN.

  • Effective ads (Score:4, Insightful)

    by intx13 (808988) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @09:51AM (#30155426) Homepage
    I see these ads a lot; they run often during college football games here in Florida. I have AT&T on a non-3G phone so it doesn't really apply to me, but if I were in the market for a 3G phone I'd definitely want to follow-up on those ads.

    I don't think they're misleading - they say "if you want to know why your friend's 3G coverage is so spotty" (or something along those lines, with 3G mentioned every time) and the examples given are all 3G-specific (high-bandwidth applications). Besides, who advertises about the breadth of their 2G service these days? It's very clear that it's talking about 3G.
    • by photon317 (208409)

      But again, there's a larger problem which you illustrate perfectly. AT&T and Verizon operate on completely different technology stacks (AT&T uses the global GSM standard, Verizon uses the "Asshat Americans want to be different and incompatible" CDMA standard). "3G" is a weak term that means different things in these two technology stacks. AT&T's 3G is a much better 3G than Verizon's 3G, and thus also much more expensive to roll out. If the "XG" terminology actually had real meaning (as in, y

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by intx13 (808988)

        "3G" is a weak term that means different things in these two technology stacks. AT&T's 3G is a much better 3G than Verizon's 3G, and thus also much more expensive to roll out.

        Very true, but prospective customers don't want to hear the details. AT&T can come back with a line of commercials advertising how their 3G is faster than Verizon's 3G and bam - competition. The point is that the Verizon ads aren't unfairly damaging or misleading and there's plenty of room for rebuttal by AT&T.

  • by pipboy9999 (1088005) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @09:52AM (#30155436)
    This is a little off topic, but if there is one industry that desperately needs some Truth In Advertising laws enforced, its the wireless industry. I don't know why AT&T is so pissed. All the major carriers play up the smallest advantage they have over competitors as 'THE' deciding factor in who is the best carrier. How can Sprint AT&T and Verizon all have the best 3G networks like they each claim in their commercials?
    • by Pojut (1027544)

      From what I have seen AT&T claims they have the "fastest", while Verizon claims it has the "largest". From my own experience, this seems true.

    • by Pope (17780)

      If they're anything like the energy sector, all ads have to have the Legal Department's stamp of authority, so in this case, it passes muster.

      It's like I used to say when I was a kid, "If your soap is so great, why is the other one the 'leading brand,' shouldn't yours be best?"

      • If your soap is so great, why is the other one the 'leading brand,' shouldn't yours be best?

        Well, that's easy enough to answer: What's popular isn't always best, and what's best isn't always the most popular.

        • by tomhudson (43916)

          Actually, you should change laundry soap brands every once in a while. Studies show that they have different residue build-ups (from fillers, etc), and switching gets rid of the residue from the old residue. That's why clothes look brighter the first time you wash them after you switch. 6 months later, switch, wash, rinse, repeat ...

    • How can Sprint AT&T and Verizon all have the best 3G networks like they each claim in their commercials?

      "Best" is a subjective term. Does it mean the fastest 3G? The one with the widest area of coverage? The one with the least amount of downtime? The one with the highest customer satisfaction? Or some selective combination of all the above?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mu51c10rd (187182)

      Actually, I think Sprint advertises the "most reliable", Verizon "the widest coverage", and ATT "the fastest" or something like that. Seems they are all touting something similar, just slightly different.

    • Best vs. Better (Score:2, Informative)

      by Yeknomaguh (1681980)
      According to Truth in Advertising, you don't need to qualify the word "best." Anything can be the "best" in regards to any specific condition due to it being a subjective term. However, and this has been brought to court successfully many times, "better" does need qualification. Something can only be "better" than something else if you can prove it. So better is better than best and best is next to meaningless in advertising speak.
  • My wish... (Score:4, Funny)

    by jonaskoelker (922170) <jonaskoelker@gnuUMLAUT.org minus punct> on Thursday November 19, 2009 @09:56AM (#30155480) Homepage

    Not having read anything about the case, and I know it can't happen, but just based on how ethical the slashdot comments make AT&T and Verizon appear to be...

    Ahem.

    I hope they both lose.

  • by santax (1541065) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @09:58AM (#30155486)
    That's a bit like Goliath fighting Goliath. Where the hell is David?
    • Re:AT&T vs Verizon (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dkleinsc (563838) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @10:14AM (#30155676) Homepage

      All of us "consumers". Notice how we aren't represented in the courtroom.

    • He ducked out and went with a Tracfone.

    • He went back to get more stones. No one said anything about TWO of them! Before leaving, David asked, "What do these guys eat for breakfast?"
    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      It's Sprint.
      Yes I am on Sprint. They have better coverage than T-Mobile at least as good as AT&T, They are cheaper than AT&T or Verizon, and they have really been working hard on their customer support. So far I have been very pleased.
      Oh and they don't cripple phones.
      The one downside is they are CDMA so you will have issues if you travel to the EU. If I go to the EU again for business I will probably get a cheap unlocked GSM phone and get a pay as you go sim there.

  • There's not a restraining order for that!
  • by clone53421 (1310749) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @10:20AM (#30155746) Journal

    I've personally fallen for a similar scam (or so I felt) when I bought a digital camera. The camera included a "lithium digital camera battery" but failed to mention that it was a throw-away, non-rechargeable battery. When I got it home and opened it, I was exasperated to read the documentation and find that the rechargeable batteries are "lithium-ion" and I'm expected to buy them separately – and to add insult to injury, at inflated prices. Yeah, I made an uninformed decision when I bought the camera, but I felt that Kodak (yes, I'll name names) deliberately tried to leave it confusing so that people would do exactly as I did.

    Truth in advertising, IMHO, would be served if Verizon was required to put a tagline to the effect that "Note: Normal cellular calling coverage may extend outside the 3G-covered area". A lot of normal users don't know the difference between "3G" and regular talk coverage any more than I knew the difference between "lithium" and "lithium-ion" batteries.

    • A lot of normal users also don't understand the difference between hard drive storage and memory. Do you suggest that we have a dissertation about these differences on every product that contains either or both of these technologies? At some point consumer ignorance can no longer be an excuse. How can an industry really decide how far they have to go in explaining a product before they've done a sufficient enough of a job as to avoid lawsuits?

      As far as I'm concerned, as long as it's apples to apples I have
      • by tomhudson (43916)

        A lot of normal users also don't understand the difference between hard drive storage and memory

        Exactly. Just like they don't understand the difference between an operating system and a browser or application (to go to one extreme). "What does your computer run?" "Internet Explorer." or "Word".

        Or the ones who don't understand mpg. "Oh, I get great gas mileage - I always just put in $10".

        On the other hand, these ads made it clear they were talking about 3g coverage, not speed, not price. Coverage. A

    • Yeah, I made an uninformed decision when I bought the camera, but I felt that Kodak (yes, I'll name names) deliberately tried to leave it confusing so that people would do exactly as I did.

      I see no confusion whatsoever - the package didn't say "rechargeable battery", and unsurprisingly didn't contain a rechargeable battery. It's not Kodak's fault you thought you were getting something for nothing.

  • Damn them all (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Thyamine (531612) <thyamine@oFREEBSDfdragons.com minus bsd> on Thursday November 19, 2009 @10:20AM (#30155748) Homepage Journal
    It would be nice to be able to go to a generic cell service store where there's a two step process to getting a phone: 1. select a phone, 2. select a carrier. Have it all laid out right there in one store. No need to stick with one carrier because you want a certain phone, more innovation on the cell phone side since manufacturers don't have to worry about carriers laying out the rules, and carriers forced to really compete with services because they can't guarantee users through phone lock-ins. I know that probably won't happen here in the US anytime soon, if ever, but a nice happy thought to ponder while I sip on my coffee.
    • by RMH101 (636144)
      In the EU, you can. Lots of high-street cellphone shops carry all the networks. They also sell sim-free, unlocked (and therefore unsubsidised, full price) handsets, and SIM-only contracts/pay as you go, as well as the usual bundles. Or you can get a sim-free phone from eBay or http://www.expansys.com/ [expansys.com] and stick any SIM in it...
    • In Austin Texas, we have a couple of stores similar to what you propose. They're called Wireless Toyz. There you can look at hundreds of phones and accessories and multiple carriers. You can get practically anything you want there.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      In Canada we have stores like that... almost.

      They cover the [one|two|three|three-and-a-half] carriers that service your area. You go in and select a carrier and a phone. Except you have to select those two together because the phones are all locked and half the networks are incompatible with the other half.

      It's actually pretty darkly humorous.

  • Maps (Score:5, Informative)

    by natehoy (1608657) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @10:41AM (#30156064) Journal

    You can't really compare the maps anyway.

    Verizon's map is a coverage area map. They paint broad swaths of area where they have towers, but don't show any gaps in signal. Even up here in Verizon country (New England), I found that Verizon has plenty of dead zones where I don't get signal yet I'm in an area of the map that says I should. Verizon just takes each tower (I guess) and paints a circle around it with the theoretical diameter that the tower could reach.

    AT&T's map, as far as I can see, is an actual signal map If I zoom in on it, I see predicted levels of signal and gaps in coverage that correspond roughly with the gaps I actually experience when I'm going places. It's not perfectly accurate, of course, but at least it makes the apparent attempt to be honest about actual signal. I don't know how they do it - perhaps they simply check terrain in Google Earth and look for landscape that "shadows" a tower. But whatever - I find it's very rare for me to lose signal in areas where the AT&T map shows coverage.

    So, while Verizon may technically be accurate in stating that they have better "3G coverage" nationwide, I bet if you actually compared signal (that is, areas where you can actually get a 3G signal, and not areas within x miles of a tower regardless of terrain), Verizon's map would look a whole lot less thorough.

    Verizon has the better 3G coverage. Fine, I get that. Of course, I don't have a 3G capable phone so I really don't care. But I get that it is important to some people. Verizon even has (marginally) better Voice/non-3G Data coverage here in New England.

    But I had no way of honestly comparing them based on the coverage maps. AT&T showed me incomplete coverage that matched my real-world experience with my prepaid Go! phone. Verizon showed absolute 100% coverage everywhere which certainly did NOT match our experience with my wife's Verizon phone.

    Example: My mother lives in a small town on the coast. When I go to her house, coverage is VERY spotty - you basically have to be near a window to get a bar or two. Verizon and AT&T have the exact same actual signal - very low (1-2 bars) and you have to pretty much be at a window standing still to make a call and have any hope of completing a conversation. My wife's Verizon phone and my AT&T phone were pretty much identical in performance.

    The maps tell a very different story. AT&T shows my mother's house as "no coverage" along with a good chunk of the peninsula she lives on. Verizon shows the entire peninsula she lives on with full-on 3G coverage, no gaps whatsoever. Most of the peninsula has *no coverage of any kind* with AT&T or Verizon.

      I finally concluded that I'd rather be told the truth, and when my company offered the choice of carriers for my Crackberry I went with AT&T. It didn't hurt, of course, that Verizon also locks out the GPS on the models we had, and AT&T allows me to use it (Verizon CLAIMED you could, but then they told you afterward that you had to buy the $10/month TeleNav service and even then you STILL wouldn't be allowed to use the GPS with anything other than TeleNav, Blackberry Maps, and Google Maps).

    I have no particular love for AT&T, but at least they appear to be making an effort at honesty about their signal coverage, and when they sell me a phone with a feature installed they let me use the feature.

    • I dunno - call me old fashioned - I don't think AT&T should have dead zones in the middle of a city (like Seattle) or other cities. I don't live there anymore, but I do live in another city where they claim solid blue (3g) coverage for the entire city - no dead spots wherever. Its an outright lie, and my phone gets zero bars in my office (no calls, no data what-so-ever) while all my friends who have verizon phones seem to never have dead spots in the same building or around town.

      Interestingly - when I w

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mcb (5109)

        Might not be AT&T's fault... my office used to have solid Verizon coverage but no AT&T reception. If I stepped outside I had full 3G on my iPhone. Anywhere indoors, I had no service.

        It turned out they were using Verizon repeaters in the building. They removed them one day and ever since, AT&T users have had full coverage inside.

        • by natehoy (1608657)

          We had the same problem in one of our buildings for a while - putting in Verizon-specific repeaters. Somehow, they interfere with other signal. Imagine that. The AT&T repeater never borked Verizon signal, but once you put in the Verizon repeater even the AT&T repeater wasn't enough to get signal.

          Rip 'em out, replace 'em with a set of Wilson or other third-party non-carrier-specific repeater, Life Is Good.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by genghisjahn (1344927)
      Stephen King wrote about a Dead Zone is New England a long time ago. The guy was/is a visionary.
  • by mcb (5109) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @10:43AM (#30156086) Homepage

    Just curious if people really care that much about nationwide 3G coverage. Unless you travel constantly to many different states, what matters most is local coverage.

    I visited northern NH for a week this summer and didn't have 3G (on AT&T). I barely noticed.

    • I've got an iPhone, and I honestly don't care too much about 3G coverage. If I want to do bandwidth-intensive operations, I'll use WiFi, which the iPhone supports.

  • by MarkvW (1037596) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @11:01AM (#30156386)

    Pizza Hut sued Papa John's because Papa John's was claiming "better ingredients, better pizza." Pizza Hut lost. These lawsuits are a stupid waste of courts' time--and of taxpayer money.

    Maybe I'll boycott AT&T for awhile . . ..

  • As nerds, and political activists, how can we promote competition in the wireless market on a metric more similar to "how fast does nytimes.com load" than "what is the maximum theoretical limit using the network?

Top Ten Things Overheard At The ANSI C Draft Committee Meetings: (8) I'm on the committee and I *still* don't know what the hell #pragma is for.

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