Through the past few weeks of my covering the Verizon and AT&T squabble (which now appears to be commercials only, and no lawsuits), I've received numerous e-mails, tweets, comments, and the like questioning (1) whether I have a bias toward a particular carrier, and (2) what I think about the "fight." I assure you, I've carried all four of the nationwide wireless carriers, and there's practices that I appreciate and practices that I don't. Like many of you, I have opinions about the various carriers, but there's a fundamental difference between having a viewpoint and being biased about a particular network.
What you're seeing, whether you like it or not, is a direct result of the capitalistic business structure found in corporate America. In this example, Verizon makes a true (albeit potentially misleading to those not familiar with the technology) claim about AT&T's 3G coverage relative to Verizon's 3G footprint. It forces AT&T to compete. Markets that, based on my research and communications with informed individuals, weren't slated to launch until 2010 are suddenly going live. You may find the advertisements to be annoying, but I find it to be quite good for us. As the phrase goes, the advertising campaign is lighting a bit of a fire under AT&T's backside.
To divulge into the claims presented by both parties, Verizon's statement that their 3G footprint is larger than AT&T's is a correct assertion. Likewise, AT&T's claim that Verizon customers can't make a call and browse the web at the same time (barring Wi-Fi) due to the technology restrictions of EVDO is correct. Yes, Verizon scored the highest in two independent customer surveys, while AT&T ranked lowest. Conversely, AT&T has the iPhone, a device that continues to be incredibly popular in the consumer market (and as of late, the business market). As such, concerns have surfaced about the Apple device bogging down AT&T's network, a claim that is being addressed by several launches of 7.2 Mbps HSPA by the end of this year and into 2010. Despite the concerns, AT&T continues to grow, with 1.4 million postpaid customers gained in the third quarter and churn of 1.17 percent. Verizon gained 1.2 million postpaid customers in the third quarter, with postpaid churn at 1.13 percent. I'm not arguing that Verizon or AT&T are perfect carriers, but if you think that either company is losing customers, think again.
As we all know, AT&T is the exclusive carrier of the iPhone in the United States, but the argument that "AT&T will fail if the iPhone goes to other carriers" (or any other iPhone-centric argument) really isn't valid. Love it or hate it, it is exclusive to AT&T, and two years after the initial launch, it's still selling well. What's more, we're talking about the second largest wireless carrier here, folks; a company that's been around - in name, at least - longer than any other telecommunications company in the nation. Considering that their full name stands for American Telephone & Telegraph, I doubt they're going anywhere anytime soon. I'm positive about one thing: should AT&T lose iPhone exclusivity, they'll come up with competitive deals that will allow them to maintain their position in the wireless marketplace.
The fact of the matter is that it's all relative. I'm fortunate enough to live in a metropolitan area, where the four major carriers work equally well. When I was traveling through North Carolina as the Carolinas Account Executive for a now-defunct MVNO, it was a different story. In Western North Carolina, Verizon held the upper hand. When traveling through Eastern North Carolina, my AT&T device consistently maintained a strong signal. In San Diego, my Sprint device performed admirably. In Vermont, Verizon had the edge. In New York City, Atlanta, and Washington, DC, I found all of my devices to be relatively equal.
If Verizon works well in your area, or you're a fan of the carrier's flagship devices like the Motorola DROID and the BlackBerry Tour, then sign up for Verizon. If AT&T or the iPhone appeals to you, then sign up for the nation's second largest wireless carrier. I've dropped calls on Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile. As much as I'd like it to be, wireless service isn't perfect. There will always be pros and cons to the various wireless companies, and in all of my content, the hope is that we can solicit a discussion as to what you like and don't like about your carrier(s).
While opinions will always be present to some extent, there's no wireless news that isn't "worthy of being posted." Just like I'll cover Verizon's rollout of LTE, I'll also cover AT&T's 3G expansion, Sprint's WiMAX launches, and T-Mobile's 21+ Mbps HSPA announcements. I'm obligated to provide coverage of the industry's news - after all, that's what a News Editor does. Whether you find the news particularly important or not, that's your viewpoint, and I respect it.