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The Truth About Verizon's "3G" Coverage

November 10, 2009

AppleInsider | AT&T defends its data network from Verizon ad attacks


Verizon's marketing storm around its "3G" coverage is overwhelming, the campaign is huge and strongly attacks AT&T. Why am I writing "3G" in quotes you might ask, well because there is a lot more to the term than you would think, and it's being widely misused. Verizon is exploiting this to claim its network superiority over AT&T. Verizon started off the hostility with its "there is a map for that" ad and continues pushing it now with its Christmas campaign. The claimed coverage difference is blatant and AT&T contests it, they are actually suing Verizon at the moment and trying to take the ads down. So what's the truth? Does Verizon really have an extensively superior coverage or are they making false claims ?

'Verizon 3G' != 'AT&T 3G'

First of all an important point in the debate is the difference between the two carriers, they actually use a whole different technology to carry your voice and data from point to point. Verizon uses a CDMA2000/Evdo network while AT&T is on GSM/UMTS. Here is actually the entire issue, Verizon compares "3G" data network for two completely different technologies. In the CDMA world, "3G" is not the same as in the UMTS world. That's how they did it. Verizon actually labels its entire data network (that tops at 1.4Mbit) as "3G" where AT&T only does so for the higher end of its network. Indeed on GSM networks, 3G is the fastest UMTS part of the band that allows up to 3.6Mbit (soon 7.2), when you're on EDGE it's only called 2.5G so of course it doesn't show in the map.

So what about the maps?

So "technically" the maps are legit, but they are misleading. In Verizon's CDMA standard you do indeed have this "3G" coverage and in AT&T's GSM standard you really have only so much "3G". But in real terms it means that if you were to stand at a point shown as "3G covered" by Verizon and "not 3G covered" by AT&T, you could still be actually getting a higher speed on AT&T, and if not the speed you'll be getting from Verizon might very well way inferior of what you would expect with "3G". So if you were to look at AT&T data coverage in the way Verizon does and not according to the technical terms, you should be getting pretty much this :

AppleInsider | AT&T defends its data network from Verizon ad attacks-1

And actually if you focus on AT&T's actual 3G only coverage it matches pretty well the actual American population map :

AppleInsider | AT&T defends its data network from Verizon ad attacks-2

It's pretty much a scam (or good marketing)

So this is pretty much the ugly truth. I really wish good luck to Verizon in court... You must admit it's dishonest.

I'd also like to add that I'm absolutely neutral to this issue, I'm myself running my iPhone on the world's best carrier better known as Swisscom, I pay $45 month for a bunch of data (up to 7.2Mbit) and unlimited voice/text. Ow, and I never had a dropped call. On top of that comparative and negative ads are illegal here so it's not that fun but at least we know the truth.

Don't you feel scammed?

[via AppleInsider]

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