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Summary:

It must be nice to be Verizon right now. Free from the intense scrutiny AT&T receives by having the hottest and “smartest” smartphone, it can appear to rise above it all. It can have TV ads to claim the best network on the planet, and it’s […]

Verizon / AT&T

It must be nice to be Verizon right now. Free from the intense scrutiny AT&T receives by having the hottest and “smartest” smartphone, it can appear to rise above it all. It can have TV ads to claim the best network on the planet, and it’s done. It can have legions of people claiming they’d drop AT&T in a heartbeat, or snap up an iPhone tomorrow, if only it could be on its network.

Even setting aside that the iPhone on Verizon would not likely be the iPhone we recognize, this is ridiculous.

Before we get into it, let me first say that if you live where there’s little or no AT&T coverage, then obviously Verizon or another carrier is what you need. But every carrier has holes in its coverage. Every. One. This article isn’t about that.

No, what this article is about are those places (and there are many) where either carrier is an option. In that case, there are general perceptions where Verizon seems to either have people fooled, or it’s no different than AT&T but it isn’t noticed.

  • It must be nice to sell phones with less usability than the iPhone so your customers don’t hammer your network, and then sit back and let people assume you could handle the load under which AT&T is straining.
  • It must be nice to utilize the same pricing and subsidy strategies as AT&T, but get to remain above the fray while AT&T takes the heat for what the whole industry is doing.
  • It must be nice to charge for carrier cash cows like SMS and tethering, but have everybody only complain about AT&T doing it.
  • It must be nice to brag about having visual voice mail on some phones, while quietly hiding that it’s an extra $3 a month.
  • It must be nice to not allow convenient syncing of data, media, bookmarks, etc., via the excellent iTunes environment, instead using clumsier tools if anything is allowed at all, and have your customers just take it in stride.
  • It must be nice to disable hardware features on many phones, such as Bluetooth, GPS, and Wi-Fi, with little complaint from the masses.
  • It must be nice to avoid GSM, still using CDMA-based technology that the rest of the world (and AT&T) has abandoned. Its rollout to a 4G network could come with headaches as a result.
  • It must be nice to brag about 3G speeds, and have no one point out that your CDMA 3G technology (EV-DO) can handle voice or data, but not both simultaneously. Browsing the web when a call comes in? You can have the call or the web, not both. Oops.

If Verizon received even half the scrutiny AT&T does, it’d be buried with criticism. If AT&T is getting a lot of bad press, Verizon would be ripped to shreds. But since it doesn’t offer a phone that’s particularly compelling, one that taxes its network, one that people actually want to use, few have bothered to look beyond the geek with the glasses it puts on TV. It must be nice.

Finally, this in not intended as a defense of AT&T, and in no way excuses it from legitimate complaints. I’ve certainly grown tired of all that company’s talk, but no action. However, the idea that Verizon would somehow be free from all these complaints — even assuming it allowed the iPhone as is — is not supported by its own actions. As a U.S. carrier it has far more in common with AT&T than people seem to realize.

I was a Verizon customer for years prior to switching for an iPhone over two years ago. The “Verizon envy” many AT&T customers possess is akin to the grass always being greener on the other side. Problem is, most of you would find out it’s crabgrass.

  1. here, here!

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  2. It never felt so good to unsubscribe from a blog before.

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    1. Glad we’re the blog of good feelings.

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    2. @Jeff Clark,
      Umm, care to explain why any of this blog post didn’t hit the nail on the head? I’ve always shaken my head in disbelief at the evil empire things Verizon has gotten up to all these years. Sure AT&T has it’s problems, but man, I’d hate to be on a carrier who disabled Bluetooth and wifi and GPS on a perfectly good phone in order to charge me a bucketload to use their crappy services over the cell instead.

      -Mart

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  3. Amen. I was with Verizon for 4 years prior to this June when I switched to AT&T for the iPhone 3GS, and I couldn’t wait to get away from Big Red. I’m sure I’ll have problems with AT&T just like I did with Verizon at some point, but I have the device I want. The coverage has been excellent so far and I’m paying the same price I did for my Blackberry. Even ignoring the CDMA/GSM issue, I’m highly skeptical Verizon would ever offer the iPhone unless Apple agreed to some inane request like disabling WiFi or GPS, or App Store revenue sharing.

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  4. Well said. I had Verizon for a while, but had problems with it. I had no service at my family’s summer home and had service just about everywhere except my own home. There still is no Verizon service in both of those places to this day. Their phones are very lackluster and feature-less. The iphone is amazingly capable and so enjoyably compatible.

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  5. The question isn’t why AT&T’s network is so bad, but why it’s **still** so bad even after the huge influx of revenue that the iPhone has brought to the company. It’s pathetic, really.

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    1. Also keep in mind that other carriers in other countries have managed to get things like tethering and MMS up and running with hardly any issues, but for some reason AT&T can’t.

      “It must be nice to brag about 3G speeds, and have no one point out that their CDMA 3G technology (EV-DO) can handle voice or data, but not both simultaneously. Browsing the web when a call comes in? You can have the call or the web, not both. Oops.”

      Uh, what? Who talks on their PHONE while browsing the web on the same device at the same time? No one.

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    2. “Uh, what? Who talks on their PHONE while browsing the web on the same device at the same time? No one.”

      Never used an ear bud? :)

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    3. @HazardousPaste

      “Uh, what? Who talks on their PHONE while browsing the web on the same device at the same time? No one.”

      I’m trying to work out if you’re trying to be funny because I am always looking things up on my iPhone when I’m on calls (hands-free) or downloading apps or waiting for an email from the person on the other end to send to me etc etc.

      -Mart

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    4. FeelingGood in L.A. Monday, July 20, 2009

      @HazardousPaste

      Are you fracking kidding me? I use that ability at least once a day on my iPhone. If someone ask me something I can’t readily answer I immediately put them on speakerphone and google the answer while I am still talking to them. It always impresses the hell out of them and give me an opportunity to show off the iPhone’s abilities.

      It must really suck to be you.

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    5. lapuraveritas Monday, July 20, 2009

      um Hazardous Paste ….

      in reference to talking on the phone and surfing the web…..(see Below)

      some ppl do this all the time (its commonly called multitasking)…. esp when accessing fb/twitter/linkedin, googling and talking at the same time…..if your really tech savvy….it can be done via a bluetooth headset! lol!

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  6. Wow, you sound like a bitter ex-girlfriend.

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    1. Would love to see a post on new type of coverage in cellular wireless service – I think it’s primarily for web surfing and in Atlanta it’s called “Clear.” I would like to know how this will change the face of communications and implications for iPhone and other mobile devices.

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    2. Clear in WiMax, 4g Cell Network – Joint Venture of Sprint, ClearWire.
      Its great, but coverage is very limited for now, and expansion isn’t in much rush

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  7. Tom, good post, but it’s not just AT&T and VZW that have poor plans. All the carrier plans suck. The best one I have found is Sprint’s $99 all you can eat plan although T-Mobile has a higher data transfer limit. Oh, and I am a VZW customer. I dropped my data plan months ago because I couldn’t justify the expense.

    The fact of the matter is the cell phone industry in the US sucks donkey balls. The carriers collude on pricing–not formally, but informally. There is little differentiation between them except for Springs all you can eat. If Sprint got the iPhone, AT&T would be peeing their pants.

    I almost bought an iPhone 3G last week, but dammit, I simply won’t pay exorbitant rates for SMS. I won’t. Why am I concerned about SMS, because I know alot of people who don’t have data plans but do have SMS. So while I could use Twitter, etc for SMS like functions, they can not.

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  8. “It must be nice to not allow convenient syncing of data, media, bookmarks, etc, via the excellent iTunes environment,”

    You Must Be Joking! I never seen such cumbersome, slow and resource hog like iTunes.

    “It must be nice to avoid GSM, still using CDMA-based technology that the rest of the world (and AT&T) has abandoned.”

    This must be some sick joke or you are misinformed – BOTH VZW and ATT announced they will deploy CDMA based 4g – LTE.

    As much as I’d love WiMax to succeed it doesn’t seem that way due to very slow deployment rate

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    1. YoureAtoolBox Monday, July 20, 2009

      dude…do your research. LTE is not based on CDMA. Even WCDMA is in fact very different from CDMA.

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    2. Yeah, iTunes for Windows can be a P.I.T.A.
      Soo glad God created Macs.

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  9. There is nothing wonderful about iTunes or any of the (US) national wireless services. All of them are some sinister mix of evil and incompetence.

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    1. I don’t believe they’re “evil” or “sinister”, but US carriers have always had their way with users (and the hardware) for so long it’s a major shock. AT&T had to let go of some things with the iPhone, but Verizon is still clinging pretty tightly to the old ways.

      Hence my argument that, when compared to AT&T, Verizon is being placed on a pedestal where they don’t belong.

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    2. yes

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  10. Do these posts really need to be so.. snarky? To me this type of “it must be nice” point-by-point dissection does tend to come over all bitter fanboy. We left all that behind with the 360 vs PS3 wars of 2008, right?

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    1. So now I’m an AT&T fanboy? Really? I’m a fanboy of a CARRIER? Oh please.

      Don’t be so sensitive. Verizon is flying under the radar with people imagining they’re somehow a lot different than AT&T. They’re not.

      If you don’t think Verizon LOVES every “AT&T sucks” article, especially those about pricing even though they have the same prices, you’re nuts. It must, indeed, be nice.

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    2. I do agree with the points made in the article – Verizon gets an easy ride on many aspects of its service, primarily because it isn’t held up to the kind of standards Apple customers expect.

      I’m certainly not accusing anyone of being an AT&T fanboy, but I reckon that if you were to replace the name Verzion with Microsoft and AT&T with Apple, for example, I think the article would come across as something of a fanboy piece.

      I just thought the tone could have been a little more reasoned. I’m no writer, but it’s better to have constructive feedback than “I’m quitting this blog” right?

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    3. GJD,

      “I reckon that if you were to replace the name Verizon with Microsoft and AT&T with Apple, for example, I think the article would come across as something of a fanboy piece”

      But that’s a projection you can’t reasonably make. The same could be said if I substituted “New York Yankees” and “Boston Red Sox” as well, but the fact is the article isn’t about those teams, and it isn’t about Apple and Microsoft. It’s about Verizon and AT&T; making statements based on what it COULD have been about is a bit unfair.

      As for the “tone”, it used bullet points to back up whatever tone it has. I used “it must be nice” as the theme of the post because it’s what I always mumble to myself whenever I read one of the (seeming) numerous posts a week about how useless AT&T is, even as almost every argument could be leveled at Verizon as well.

      Finally, I appreciate the thoughtful comments. I don’t want to drive people off with “tone”, but in this case I believe the theme fit well. Besides, if every article “tone” was the same we’d all be wishy-washy, mealy-mouthed writers who straddle the fence ’cause we’re afraid to upset anybody. How boring would that be?

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