AT&T engages in ironic marketing spat with T-Mobile


Well, this is quite interesting. It wasn’t that long ago that AT&T and T-Mobile were all buddy-buddy as the former tried to swallow the latter up in a major (but eventually failed) acquisition deal, but it looks like the status quo has been restored. AT&T has released a new newspaper ad — with full-page spaces in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today — showing “the truth about T-Mobile’s network” compared to its own.

AT&T notes how T-Mobile has twice as many dropped calls, twice as many failed calls, and 50% slower data then its own network. AT&T’s data claims might be a tad substantiated considering the growing 4G LTE network it’s building, but those claims won’t last long as T-Mobile is just about ready to build out its own. And we’re not sure what AT&T’s basis for the claims of dropped and failed calls are, but it assures us its data has been backed up by independent, third-party testing.

The fact that AT&T is attacking T-Mobile head-on isn’t too shocking — after all, the wireless industry here in America has been known to be quite nasty when it comes to marketing. We’re just surprised AT&T was so blunt in this particular campaign after it had nothing but praises to shower on the fourth-largest US carrier while the two were still in bed. I guess that just goes to show that you’re only friends in business when you really, really want something.

[via Bloomberg]

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. Well here in Oregon 42 mpbs tmobile is way faster than att non existing lte here.

    1. In Portland AT&T has fairly good LTE service. My GF has an AT&T Note 2 and I’ve seen speeds north of 20Mbps on LTE. I’m seeing about 8Mbps with my Galaxy Nexus on T-Mobile. I’m guessing a Nexus 4 with it’s faster 42Mbps chipset would see 12-15Mbps on T-Mobile here which is pretty close to LTE. Once place T-Mobile can’t compete right now though is latency. Regardless of bandwidth, LTE has much lower latency which makes web browsing a much better experience.

    2. T-Mobile is what I’m looking at… They blanketed Eastern Oregon where I live and travel along, meanwhile AT&T is hardly present at all.

      ..and Sprint (who I’m currently with), has one tower in the town I live in, whose speeds have only DE-creased since I first signed up in 2005. Yeah, can’t wait to leave Sprint…

  2. … x2 more
    monthly payment with AT&T

  3. Ah~ the love and hate relationship~

  4. What the hell is a “tad substantiated”? It either is or is not; you cannot be a “tad pregnant” or a “tad dead”; either they have the data to substantiate, or they don’t.

  5. LTE is like being on wifi, until T-mobile gets it, they won’t compare

    1. This is not backed up by my tests comparing T-Mobile and Verizon network performance in Maryland, DC and Virginia. In practice my friend’s Verizon phone and my T-Mobile phone got very similar performance on speed tests: both poor in downtown DC, better outside the city, but similar download speeds in each location.

    2. not entirely true. LTE can be much faster than wifi, and it often is. But often times, especially on Verizon’s densely populated network, LTE can be slower than Tmobile’s HSPA+. In NYC on Tmobile i average about 10-15 mbps (which is like being on wifi) and my verizon buddy’s are often pulling down about 5-8 mbps and my att friend snags about 25-40 mbps. So as far as comparing goes, it’s extremely dependent on the regions you are comparing.

  6. Why don’t they compare there network to Verizon’s?

    1. They did a while back, but got caught lying their a$$es off.

  7. Actually, this data from Netflix showing average video streaming speeds shows T-Mobile with the #2 slot and AT&T in #4:

    1. AT&T just lovesss to lie to the consumer. I remember seeing all kinds of ads with them saying they had the largest 4G LTE network. YEAH RIGHT. I hate AT&T. My girlfriend always has bad service with them.

    2. Thanks for the useful info. I’m in the market for a new cell phone carrier and this really helps justifying switching to t-mobile.

    3. I would honestly chock that up to the iPhone. Not bashing here but there are tons of iPhone users still using 3G devices out there. Not to mention the number of people I see that have LTE turned off on their i5’s. Here in Orlando it is pretty apparent which carrier is the best. I work for ATT because they are the best here. If I moved elsewhere and the tables turned then I would take up a job with whoever was on top there.

  8. yeah right, with T-Mobile I’ve never had a dropped call anywhere in LA for 7 years. when I had to temporarily use AT&T, I had at least 2 every week -,-

    1. I’m on T-Mobile, and I get dropped calls all the time…

      … when talking to my friends who are on AT&T!

      1. aaaahhh you almost had me there lol

    2. I tried T-Mobile…….. no bars = no calls to be dropped. Is it still considered failure if it couldn’t even start?

  9. I have used Tmobile since it was VoiceStream and had no problems with voice or data. Tmobile already has the fastest HSDPA+ network and at least they don’t charge $5 every time you go over the data cap.

    1. T-mobile doesn’t charge when you go over on any plan….. The current ones anyways..

      1. I think he meant to type “don’t.”

        1. that would make more sense

        2. Yeah, I was it was a typo. I have now edited the comment

  10. I used to be on T-Mobile before moving to Sprint for about 2 years. Never had a drop call. Didn’t think they existed anymore. Moved to Sprint and I get calls that never even make it to my phone. Luckily Google Voice still gets my Voicemail, so if they leave a voice mail I can call back.

  11. TMobile is playing the shell game. Moving it’s profits from higher monthly service costs to artificially inflated phone costs. They have a great marketing spin though playing the violins as if they are the good guys.

    1. But Tmobile’s full retail pricing on phones is in line with everyone else so I fail to see your point.

    2. Artificially inflated phone costs? For those of you who still buy into the subsidy game, you pay more on a subsidized phone than an unsubsidized phone. With T-Mobile, I pay $60/month (no discount) for 500 minutes, unlimited texting, and truly unlimited data. With Verizon, I paid $85/month (with a company discount) for 400 minutes, unlimited texting, and 4GB data. So for two years, I save $600. The Verizon Phone I would like to get is the Motorola Droid RAZR MAXX HD. The subsidized price is $200. The price without a contract is $649. If T-Mobile carrier the RAZR MAXX HD, I would be saving $151 over two years.

      With T-Mobile, the upfront cost (the phone) is greater, but the monthly savings more than make up for the subsidy.

      By the way, I got a Nexus 4 from Google which means I saved about $450 over 2 years than staying with Verizon. Google Nexus phone pricing + T-Mobile Bring Your Own Device pricing = GOOD GUYS.

  12. Quentyn, you are missing a key ingredient in your final opinion sentence: that T-Mobile recently started attacking AT&T again with ridiculous amounts of animosity. Maybe AT&T has finally realized that just because T-Mobile is the #4 carrier in size/service and the #1 carrier in terrible customer service, that they are still a competitor and there is no reason that they should be ignored.

    Let us all not forget that the whole fake branding 4G mess started with T-Mobile and forced everyone else to play the stupid game too. There is no “good guy T-Mobile”, only terrible carriers all around the USA.

    1. No, the faking your G’s actually started with the CDMA carriers claiming 3G when they couldn’t even do simultaneous voice and data which is a requirement of 3G. Nice try though.

    2. Yeah, actually Sprint started the 4g claims…

      1. Sprint started it with wi-max didn’t they?

        1. Yeah… Remember the original Evo was touted as the first 4G phone…

    3. Here we go with the moronic fake 4G arguments again… NONE of them are ‘technically’ 4G including Verizon’s LTE so its stupid to talk about in the first place!
      Is your porn streaming without buffering? Congratulations you have 4G


    4. No T-mobile does have 4G its just not LTE yet.

    5. No HSPA+ is 4G by todays standards.

    6. Uh… The fake 4G mess started with Sprint and WiMax, then Verizon and LTE. (Their LTE *still* isn’t fast enough to qualify for the original 4G spec.) T-Mo was advertising their HSPA+ as “Fastest 3G” until AT&T started referring to HSPA+ as 4G.

  13. lol At&t is hilarious, at my college campus most of the people on at&t’s service literally hang out by the window to get a reception.

    1. I’d be lucky to even do that. I think I have to walk outside, be about 50 feet away from a building. I think being on the north side helps a bit more too (at my campus).

  14. I get 9mb down, and 2.6mb up on VZW LTE. I would be fine with T-MO speed, for half the cost of my VZW plan. When I was on AT&T, I was lucky to get calls out or receive calls. I would never switch to AT&T.

  15. The independent 3rd party tester may or may not be legit… But anytime you have this kind of data used for marketing, you have to call into question the sample size and sample area(s) of that data.

    1. exactly as a marketing major this is one of the oldest tricks in the book i cant see the fine print on the ad, but yes if they tested a single market where they know this is true they can put it and just state a disclaimer in the fine print.

  16. Actually AT&T is dissing T-Mobile casuse some T-Mobile CEO said on MWC 2013 that AT&T’s service is crap…. Lol people just don’t read enough before posting articles and replying….

    1. Lol, wait… MWC was just this week… So even if this happened, AT&T had the time to hire a third party firm to gather the data, the data was gathered and analyzed, then submitted to AT&T, and THEN AT&T got these newspapers to rush an ad into print stating said results??

  17. In my area, i get average 20mbps, with micro-second peaks of 30! Thats enough for me and im saving alot of money! The truth about tmobile: Right Service at right price! #winning

  18. Blah blah blah if tmobile and Dish Network would just be bought out by Google(already) At&t would zip it.

    Motorola ROKR forever!

  19. the average reader could take this to mean ATT is the one dropping calls, failed calls etc. Bad ad

  20. On T-Mobile in Anaheim. I get average 15-18 mbps down, and 1-2 up.
    Att does about 5-7 on LTE!!! Hahaha. Just stating the facts.

    p.s. Never had a dropped call in over 8 years with T-mobile.

  21. These types of claims are usually the product of deceptive and misleading marketing. Half of the time they’re completely subjective. Cell coverage varies greatly according to where you live. All the carriers have areas where they have superior coverage. I was on ATT for over 2 years with the iphone 3g, 3GS, and tge iPhone 4. While my service was good here in NYC, I experienced quite a few dropped calls and serious variations in speed even from a single city block. ATT has the fastest LTE in many areas, but with excessive fees and data caps. I’ve seen T Mobile’s HSPA+ network reach speeds of 20mbps in NYC. This is fast enough, and in many cases better than ATT’s and Verizon’s congested LTE networks. I’m on Sprint now, and my phone coverage is great. Data on upgraded Network Vision towers is also great. I’ve gotten speeds as high as 34 Mbps on LTE with super low latency.

  22. They both suck for me personally. Haven’t had ATT for years but they sucked when i had service with them. I know a few co worker with ATT LTE and usually get 4-5 mbps if connected to LTE. Occasionally I have seen upwards of 40 mbps but not the norm. ATT lies a lot more than TMO…it’s a fact. For example take a look at the home services. Comcast (No Angels) get 12-20 mbps. ATT u verse 1-3 mbps unless you pay extra.

  23. So I AT&T, I get 18mbps download on average with T-Mobile.

    You’re telling me that you consistently get 36mbps download?

  24. I get 20-29Mbps regularly on T-Mobile HSPA+42 and never get dropped calls, I think Att seriously needs to check it’s facts and go back to the drawing board on their “facts”. Weak marketing on Att’s part if you ask me.

  25. tmobile also has hd calling. which the competition does not

  26. Funny I can’t remember the.last time I’ve had a dropped call although I almost never talk on the phone tmo hspa+ is way faster than at & fee their let faster than hspa+ but Tom will have the.fastest when it rolls out this year

  27. Hmm… 2x eh? now is that when using hspa+ or their sorry ass LTE? I think thats their LTE… When T-mo drops LTE-A this whole article becomes irrelevant… Also I have never had a dropped call… nor a failed call so pulling statics out of air.

  28. Looking at these comments how on earth did t-mobile still get bumped to 4th and verizon first with AT&T taking 2nd

  29. The real question is WHAT THE F are you going to do with 20mb on daily basis!??!

    1. speed tests to re-assure yourself… every day.

  30. Still enjoying the 30mbps I get on Verizon. Went on an hour long trip the other day and only switched to 3G once. Their LTE coverage is growing fast. In my area its really worth the extra price. Maybe when Tmobile gets LTE here I’ll switch.

    1. Where are you? I never saw anything larger than 15Mbps with their LTE in the Detroit area when I could get it. I mostly got 3G service with Verizon which in Detroit is the slowest of all carriers. I have seen 22Mbps with T-Mobile HSPA+42. I dropped Verizon because I was getting slower speeds and paying $25/month more than T-Mobile.

      1. I live in Ohio. I have to say their coverage in NEO is great. At work I usually get about 28mbps and 15 Mbps. I work in Canton.

      2. I get 20-29Mbps regularly on T-Mobile HSPA+42 across the entire Detroit Metro area and suburbs, so you’re correct. Can’t wait to have that as a fallback to Magenta’s LTE-Advance.

  31. Haha tfumble gets no respect…rightfully so

  32. compare this to sprint ..sprint sucks donkeys ass 300kb speed

  33. Well, based on this AT&T ad, T-Mobile service must be truly horrible in my area. During the 7 years I was stupid enough to keep AT&T service, thinking they would ACTUALLY care enough about their customers to fix or improve their coverage & service, I had continuous dropped calls and no coverage in more than 80 % of the areas I travelled (between Gainesville, FL & Jacksonville, FL via US 321 or State road 121 & along I-10 / between Lake City, FL & Cochran, GA along parts of I-75 & more than 90 % of the area of south to central GA off the interstate between I-75 & I-16 – It’s bad when you live approximately 1 mile or less as the crow flies from an AT&T cell tower (both in Gainesville, FL & the Providence area of Lake Butler, FL) and either have no service or only 1 bar of signal all the time, or you have to make a 10 mile drive just to make a phone call because AT&T is only interested in the higher density population areas and not really interested in the more rural areas). I finally got smart & switched carriers. I decided to go with Verizon, who, unlike AT&T, has accurate maps of their coverage area (many of the areas AT&T showed coverage, I could get no signal within a 40 mile stretch of the supposedly covered area). Now, Verizon is not perfect either, but on the same Gainesville, FL to Jacksonville, FL drive where AT&T would drop calls multiple times and have no signal whatsoever, Verizon has only 2 very small areas where me calls drop some of the time (as opposed to dropping EVERY time on AT&T). I am sure that much more population dense areas (ie Chicago, NYC, Atlanta, etc.) probably have somewhat better experience than I had on AT&T, but I would never go back to them even if they could guarantee I would never have another dropped call/no coverage experience (other than if a storm or other disaster took out power or service) . Their customer service was worse than their service coverage in my area.

  34. It is proof that shows how much of a scumbag AT&T really is.

  35. I used to drop multiple calls per day on ATT. Now on TMO I can’t remember my last dropped call. Maybe once per 6 months.

  36. nothing wrong with a little competition.


  38. Or perhaps this is sour grapes over T-Mobiles impending merger with Metro pc which appears to be moving along successfully…this acquisition paired with the bandwidth ATT agreed to give Tmo even with their failed merger…is making ATT sweat pink bullets….

  39. Personal experience is pretty much unimportant in cases like this. Every company has spots of weak coverage where another has good coverage. Unless you truly travel regularly over a large area, you really are in no position to judge the overall performance of any company.

    The thing here is that I don’t think such a marketing campaign truly achieves much. Many, if not most Tmobile customers have different expecations and requirements than an AT&T or Verizon customer. The statistics in the ad could be accurate, but still irrelevant to Tmobile customers because the service works in regards to their localized needs. They’re also probably more tolerant of dead spots than they would with AT&T because the pay less. Likewise, I knew I was giving up some coverage when I went from Verizon to Sprint, but understood that I have service in the places I need it and the price was better suited to my needs.

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