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AT&T Sues Verizon Over "Map For That" Ads 249

MahlonS writes "AP is reporting on a suit filed in Northern Georgia in which AT&T claims that Verizon's 'There's a Map for That' ads are misleading and amount to deceptive trade practices. Verizon had already agreed to modify their original ad to include a tag line that voice and data services are available outside 3G coverage areas." What's interesting is that on some level, this is actually a lawsuit over data visualization.
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AT&T Sues Verizon Over "Map For That" Ads

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  • I'm not seeing it. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Paranatural ( 661514 ) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @11:12AM (#29978428)

    It even said in the FA that they were maps of the 3G coverage. As long as the maps are accurate, I can't see what they are complaining about. Nowhere is it implied that the normal service is limited to those same maps.

    A case of sour grapes by AT&T.

    Maybe if they'd use some of that iPhone money to expand their infrastructure instead of hiring lawyers and racking up executive bonuses...but nah, that's crazy talk.

    • by pcaylor ( 648195 ) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @11:24AM (#29978644)
      The maps are accurate but Verizon originally referred to the areas without 3G coverage as 'Out of Touch' That sounds a lot worse than 'falling back to 2G EDGE' Verizon has agreed to remove the 'Out of Touch' phrasing though. AT&T wants Verizon to show their full data coverage map without distinction between EDGE and 3G. And on such trivialities, lawyers get rich.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ari_j ( 90255 )
        Fortunately for Verizon, AT&T's full coverage map sucks, too. If AT&T really believed in honest advertising, they would add a few words to their slogan: America's largest 3G network ... because you can roam, at great expense, in Europe and we counted that.
        • the telecom companies have sued each other over those slogans as well. If you follow the trade magazines, you see news of new suit over an advertised claim every couple months. When they don't settle out of court, it's usually found in favor of the plaintiff too.
          • by ari_j ( 90255 )
            I definitely avoid the trade magazines. Thanks for the pro tip - not surprising in the last.
      • by glop ( 181086 )

        I disagree with AT&T. I want maps, precise maps for 3G. I mean, I have EDGE on my Blackberry and it's very bad. So if I get a 3G service, I really want to be able to make sure that I won't have to fall back to EDGE...

        I saw the ad and it really made me think it was cool and informative and I wanted to go online and check this out next time I shop for service. Unfortunately I expect the maps to be deceptive. T-Mobile's maps show reception in areas where I have been and where I would get cut all the time.

      • I think that the 'Out of Touch' phrasing is accurate in this context -- if I am paying for 3G service and am getting EDGE because I am in a 3G-less area, then I am certainly 'Out of Touch'. This is just like if I realized my 22 Mbps Internet at home was running at 768 kbps all of a sudden -- I still technically have Internet but the difference would be great enough that I would certainly classify my Internet connection as broken, or 'Out of Touch'.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          And you'd still be an idiot, because you're twisting the english language to suit your theory. Even at lower than 768 you're still pingable, or "touchable".
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mcsqueak ( 1043736 )

          I think that the 'Out of Touch' phrasing is accurate in this context

          I disagree - they are trying to give people the distinct impression that you won't be able to communicate. The commercial even shows some sad AT&T network girl alone on a bench somewhere while her Verizon network friends are together having fun. Yes there is a speed difference between 3G and Edge, but give me a break... you can still send/receive calls, texts, and still get online.

          I've gone hiking where my 3G coverage has fallen back to Edge. I was still able to access Google maps and look at where we w

      • >>>The maps are accurate but Verizon originally referred to the areas without 3G coverage as 'Out of Touch'

        Yeah Verizon should not have said "You are out of touch in the dark zones" when it was still possible to fall-back to 2G or 1G coverage. I agree with AT&T that the original voiceover was misleading to customers.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by BitZtream ( 692029 )

        The real problem is that it rarely 'falls back to 2G EDGE and continues to work' .

        The map shown for AT&Ts coverage area is about the only areas you can get data in, and sometimes thats not even true.

        I love my iPhone, but AT&Ts network is worthless. The whole 'Fastest 3G network' is false as well, unless I'm supposed to believe that everyone else gets speeds slower than a modem on most days, and that good speeds once a week are acceptable for being defined as 'fastest'.

    • I just watched the ad on youtube, and I don't find it misleading at all. Verizon has better 3G coverage than AT&T. But I do see the point that non-techies might interpret no 3G coverage as no service at all. But since the ad isn't saying anything false, then I don't see how this lawsuit would succeed.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      As an AT&T customer I hope Verizon wins this one. In fact, I believe that AT&T's map is OVERSTATING their 3G coverage. I live in the middle of a supposedly heavy 3G area, yet I often see my data drop down to EDGE, even if I have 5 bars of HDSPA on my phone.

      It didn't use to be this way... maybe the numbers of iPhone 3G/3GS users may be oversaturating the network. But I'm getting very spotty coverage (dropped calls, incoming calls go straight to voicemail often, EDGE data only, etc) in the middle of
    • ...but nah, that's crazy talk.

      What does a Native American who sells firecrackers [] have to do with this? :-)

    • by Mr_Silver ( 213637 ) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @12:52PM (#29980398)

      It even said in the FA that they were maps of the 3G coverage. As long as the maps are accurate, I can't see what they are complaining about. Nowhere is it implied that the normal service is limited to those same maps.

      Unfortunately 3G was only mentioned after AT&T complained. Previously it just said "Out of touch" and implied that you would get absolutely no voice or data throughout vast amounts of America.

      I think the editors really need to update the post - otherwise the comments are going to be filled with people making comments about the recently modified advert and not realising what was originally displayed.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nine-times ( 778537 )

      Well AT&T would probably be right to argue that their average customers don't really understand what "3G" means and might be confused by the maps. Of course, such an argument would be undercut by the fact that AT&T refers to "3G" in their own ads without explaining it.

  • Is verizons depiction of at&ts 3G coverage accurate? If so, then it couldn't be false advertising and at&t is just upset that their 3G coverage looks so poor compared to verizons. Otherwise, maybe this could fall under false advertising.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Fred IV ( 587429 )
      AT&T has voiced no issue with the accuracy of the maps. Their claim is that consumers are too dumb to know that the map is comparing 3G data coverage and not voice coverage, even though the ad makes that comparison clear.
      • by mea37 ( 1201159 )

        "even though the ad makes that comparison clear" to customers who know what 3G is. Of course, to most people it's just a buzzword thrown around that describes how cool this phone is. Where misleading advertising is concerned, "misleading" means to the common consumer, not the /. crowd.

        I had figured there would be a lawsuit about these ads, though I admit I'd guessed wrong about what specifically they'd sue over. Without watching the original ads again and paying more attention to the wording, I can't rea

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Scootin159 ( 557129 )

      I know for a fact they're not 100% accurate - Verizon's map shows 100% 3G coverage for all land within a 20 mile radius of my in-laws house. However, Verizon customers (them) get zero signal there (even when standing outdoors away from any obstructions) - not even enough to send a text message.

      Conversely, AT&T shows zero 3G coverage there, and "spotty" EDGE coverage within a 20 mile radius. However, I (AT&T) get nearly full 3G signal there, with great speeds.

      However, one case point like this only

      • Google, are you listening? Where's the gmaps overlay for *that*?

        I'll concur, the VZW map shows Michigan blanketed with coverage, but I know for a fact that there is a great big hole North of I94, West of I69, and East of M66, pretty up until I96. There's spotty coverage in places, but for the most part there's nothing there for big chunks. Still, Verizon offers in general much better coverage in my areas that anyone else, and pretty much anywhere I *do* get Verizon coverage, it's 3G.

    • False advertising pretty much happens ALL of the time. No advertisement is 100% truthful. I guess you have to cross some invisible, arbitrary line before it becomes a civil tort issue. I mean, come on, if the lose weight fast commercials are any indication, false advertising does happen. This sounds like AT&T is just upset because Verizon is pissing in its Cheerios.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Verizon's depiction of AT&T's 3G coverage is accurate, if you go by the information available on AT&T's website.

      (I posted this here [] a few minutes ago.)

  • by vxvxvxvx ( 745287 ) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @11:23AM (#29978640)
    While the technology itself is capable of decent bandwidth, the implementations are pretty terrible. Run low bandwidth wires to the cell towers and you just move the bottleneck somewhere else. 3g is more of a buzzword than anything at this point, until we actually start taking advantage of all that the technology has to offer.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Then there is the ATT 3G Coverage that is misleading. I live in a fairly rural area, and near one remote ATT tower I can get full 3G speed, only the tower itself doesn't have much in the way of data off of it, so all that 3G speed is bottlenecked by ISDN speeds, or impacted T1 or some crappy microwave link or ...

      So, while they "offer" 3G, it isn't what it seems, and is all but useless for any data. All that data communication is useless, and ATT customeres have to revert back to SMS text messaging.

      I now hav

  • Honestly, all the "Nation's Fastest 3G Network" might be true in theory, but in practice it only holds true in limited areas around the country, and even then it's a crap shoot [].
  • AT&T should get its due reprisal for selling out the constitutional rights of its customers through wonton participation in the BushCo's illegal, warrantless wire tapping program. If AT&T were the last cell phone company, I'd get a ham radio license before using them.
    • by blueZ3 ( 744446 )

      "wonton" participation? Some kind of Chinese fast-food deal with the Bush administration?

    • Because HAM radio is so much more private than AT&T cellular service.

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      If AT&T were the last cell phone company, I'd get a ham radio license before using them.

      Good luck talking to the electric company (or nearly anybody else on a POTS or cell who doesn't have ham) with that ham radio.

  • by starglider29a ( 719559 ) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @11:39AM (#29978954)
    i was going to start a "temporary service utilizing various primates for various tasks." My motto?

    There's an APE for that.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      i was going to start a "temporary service utilizing various primates for various tasks." My motto?

      There's an APE for that.

      AT&T: There's a lawsuit for that.

    • I think the trunk monkey [] will get you first!

    • Awesome. I'm really looking forward to the Pandora Ape and the GPS Ape, but you'll have to excuse my cynicism regarding the effectiveness of the Baby Monitor Ape.


  • What Verizon appears to be describing as 3G service on their super-red map is CDMA (1x), which is actually closer in speed to AT&T's EDGE network (2.5G). For the AT&T map they're using W-CDMA(HSPA+ 14.4mb/s) coverage. So they're comparing their 2G (or 2.5G) service to ATT 3.5G service area, in terms of speed. W-CDMA won't ever be deployed to 100% of AT&T's network, certainly not before they roll out LTE. What they should be comparing themselves to is AT&T's EDGE coverage map, which I believ
    • ads and marketing not comparing apples to apples in order to make their own product/service look better

      I'm shocked....
    • --What they should be comparing themselves to is AT&T's EDGE coverage map, which I believe is 100% of AT&T's licensed coverage area--

      I believe you are wrong. Those Alltel towers that AT & T ended up with don't have EDGE at least here in the rural areas. I don't like either one of these companies. But you are right Verizon is slow, but they do have voice at least in areas that AT & T doesn't. Bummer :(

      • No. All of AT&T is EDGE. From Wikipedia:

        The AT&T Mobility wireless data network began in 2002 as a Cingular initiative called "Project Genesis" that involved a GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) overlay of the entire wireless network. Project Genesis was completed by the end of 2004. Later, this network was upgraded to EDGE (Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution) across the GSM footprint. []

    • by limaxray ( 1292094 ) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @12:34PM (#29980034)
      That's non-sense. 1xEVDO Rev. A is capable of 3 Mbps and all of Verizon's network uses this technology - I'm pretty sure that falls in the the understanding of what is 3G. In actual practice though, Verizon's network supplies a pretty consistent 1 Mbps connection all across the country, which is about 4x faster than the maximum theoretical throughput of an EDGE network.

      Furthermore, the fact that WCDMA is very inflexible and depends on 5 MHz channels means that in the few places that there actually is service, you are less likely to be able to use it because there are fewer channels serving fewer clients. Go ask any iPhone user about the fantastic reliability of AT&T's 3G network. WCDMA just doesn't fare well in markets where the use of wireless spectrum isn't dictated by government mandate as it is in the EU. Also AT&T has yet to even deploy HSPA+ on a large scale to the best of my knowledge, so to say that they're service is that much faster (although it is slightly faster) is just wrong.
    • >> What Verizon appears to be describing as 3G service on their super-red map is CDMA (1x), which is actually closer in speed to AT&T's EDGE network (2.5G)

      let me tell you about the last time I used 14.4mb/s service on my phone...

  • by night_flyer ( 453866 ) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @11:50AM (#29979150) Homepage

    it's clearly a take off of iPhones "there's an app for that" ad (and probably service mark). It has nothing to do with coverage, or how reliable anything is...

  • Is there a link to an article on this that isn't a video?
  • Valid complaint (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mr_Silver ( 213637 ) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @12:05PM (#29979440)

    I've seen a couple of people who say they don't get it and use the recently modified advert as proof. The first version of the map used the words "Out of touch", had no small print and wrongly implied that outside of the coloured area you weren't going to get any coverage at all.

    AT&T's data coverage may be poor (I don't know, I don't live in the USA) but there aren't massive blackspots all over America as this map implied.

    See Engadget [] for more information.

    • by BobMcD ( 601576 )

      No, it isn't really all that valid at all, and it does nothing to refute the salient point of the advertisement. From your link:

      All that said, it's hard to deny that Verizon's ads made a perfectly valid point: using an iPhone on AT&T's network in New York or San Francisco is an exercise in frustration, regardless of whether you have 2G or 3G, and we've had zero problems on Verizon.

      From a certain point of view, an iPhone with a crappy data connection isn't really an iPhone at all. It is an iPod Touch that makes phone calls and sends text messages. It will remain so until you get back under a 3G coverage area.

      AT&T would like to point out that those devices do technically work. They would also like to refute that the coverage is better on Verizon than i

  • by booyabazooka ( 833351 ) <> on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @12:43PM (#29980206)

    You live by your customers being idiots, you die by your customers being idiots.

    I'd bet that if AT&T has decent voice coverage and spotty 3G, it has benefited from a lot of customers not realizing that those coverage areas can be different. Verizon's ad turns the same ignorance against them, and now they're upset about it.

    The notion of a mobile phone service provider suing anyone over being misleading is astoundingly ironic.

  • Grow Up, AT&T... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DomNF15 ( 1529309 ) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @12:55PM (#29980458)
    So, instead of improving their 3G service areas, they spent time and money on suing Verizon for pointing out their obviously inferior high speed network. "Wah mommy, Verizon is making fun of me." Half the time my coworkers with iPhones can't even make a voice call in my building, let alone get high speed data. Thanks, but I think I'll stick with my lousy Verizon phone, at least I can make calls pretty much anywhere.
  • Illustrating how Verizon's proprietary CDMA garbage is only available in the USA and very few limited countries, while the GSM that AT&T uses is available around the entire world. That would put Verizon in their place.

    • Considering that Verizons CDMA network covers an area much larger than all of Europe, and that most people in America stay in America, and that when traveling to Europe, most Americans get a throwaway for cell service so they don't pay $2/min ...

      I guess my point is, no one would care because its irrelevant to almost everyone that Verizon uses CDMA.

  • When those television ads for Verizon first appeared I noticed that the AT&T map that appeared in the commercial was significantly different than the AT&T coverage map depicted on the "coverage" page of the AT&T website. It should come as no surprise that the Verizon's version of the map showed markedly less 3G coverage than the map AT&T presented.

    So the only question was: "Which map is right?" If the map in Verizon's commercials map was correct we'd hear nothing more about it but if Verizon

  • What a country where advertisements are being taken to task for being misleading while the news has got the legal power to report outright lies [].

Marvelous! The super-user's going to boot me! What a finely tuned response to the situation!