It Must Be Nice to Be Verizon

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.

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