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AT&T responds to Verizon's 3G ad campaign -- by bragging about EDGE

Nilay Patel
11.12.09
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My iPhone 3GS, in downtown Chicago, as I wrote this post.

Verizon certainly seems to be getting under AT&T's skin with its ads focused on comparing 3G coverage -- not only is Ma Bell suing over 'em, it's now issuing PR to clarify what it sees as the inaccuracies of the entire campaign. If you'll recall, AT&T thinks Verizon's 1:1 comparison of 3G coverage maps makes it look like AT&T doesn't have any coverage at all across most of the country -- which means that our nation's largest wireless carrier is now in the sad position of pimping its gigantic EDGE network in response. Let's all gloss over the absolutely huge difference in 3G versus EDGE together, shall we?
With both 3G and EDGE coverage, customers can access the Internet, send e-mail, surf the Web, stream music, download videos, send photos, text, talk and more. The only difference – with some data applications, 3G is faster than EDGE.
Right, right -- the only difference. That must be why Apple named it the iPhone EDGE Slightly Faster.

Now, AT&T has a valid point when it says that its 3G map covers 75 percent of the nation's population, and that Verizon's conflation of total 3G coverage with actual network quality is slightly misleading. But you know what? We watch our iPhones drop from 3G to EDGE and even to GPRS all day long in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco, and that has nothing to do with the damn map, and everything to do with AT&T's actual network quality. Let's put it this way: Verizon's ad campaign would be totally ineffective if it didn't ring so true, and the best way for AT&T to counter these ads is to build a rock-solid network, not filing lawsuits and issuing press releases bragging about freaking EDGE. We all clear on this? Good.

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