AT&T Suing Verizon Because "Map" Ad Is Confusing To Dumb People

A Verizon Wireless ad shows a beefy Verizon 3G map next to a less impressive AT&T 3G map. AT&T is suing, saying it leads people to believe AT&T has no phone service outside of its (admittedly skimpy) 3G areas.

Now, the ad focuses on 3G alone, and the discussion is about 3G services, including video. But the charge AT&T makes is that people who watch the ad are being deliberately led to thinking that in the white spaces, there's no AT&T phone service at all. Here's the accusation:

Consumers are interpreting the white or blank space on the maps to mean that AT&T customers who are not in an AT&T "3G" coverage area have no wireless coverage whatsoever, and therefore have no ability to use their wireless devices for any purposes in vast areas of the country. This interpretation is not surprising as Verizon, in its own coverage maps, uses white space to inform customers that no coverage of any kind exists.

The thing is, this is somewhat tricky to prove, but it sounds wrong. There are areas of Verizon voice coverage that are not marked as red in the map in the commercial, if my squint-eye human-instrument comparison test is accurate. Try it for yourself. Does the map up top better resemble the one in blue and yellow (but not green), which shows broadband, aka 3G? Or the one in red, which shows voice and messaging?

For reference, here's AT&T's map — note, only the very darkest shade of blue represents 3G coverage:

The ad may be filled with jargon that confuses middle America — I will admit that — but to the trained ear, it's pretty clearly about 3G. As far as these maps claim though, that seems dubious. The maps that Verizon chose do seem to represent the same thing — 3G coverage only. Yes, AT&T lawyers, if I'm right about this, it means that Verizon could have gone with a map of all their services that was even redder than the one in the ad. So what's say we spend more of that iPhone subscription money on fixing the network (near my house, please!) and less money on frivolous lawsuits.

[AT&T's Motion for the Restraining Order of Verizon WARNING: PDF]

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