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Luke Wilson’s Mailbag – Three More Ads from AT&T Mobility Do Damage Control, and Now Apple Has Its Say

Phillip Dampier November 23, 2009 AT&T, Competition, Video, Wireless Broadband 11 Comments
Luke Wilson's blizzard of postcards

Luke Wilson's blizzard of postcards

Luke Wilson is back for three more AT&T ads hitting back Verizon Wireless for its 3G map ads, and Apple has come running to AT&T’s defense with two new ads of its own.

The theme?  AT&T’s GSM network lets subscribers talk and browse the web at the same time.  Verizon Wireless’ CDMA network does not.  For that matter, neither does Sprint, which also uses CDMA, but as a non-combatant gets a pass for this round.

Mobile phone networks in the United States primarily use GSM (AT&T, T-Mobile) or CDMA (Verizon Wireless, Sprint, MetroPCS, U.S. Cellular, Cricket) technology.  Because of the way the two standards developed, GSM can permit a customer to talk while also concurrently using mobile data services.  CDMA users must choose one or the other.

The new round of ads exploit that difference.  How important that distinction is depends on how you use your phone.  If you frequently use your AT&T phone to web browse while also speaking to someone on that phone, you would likely find Verizon Wireless’ limitation irritating.  If you don’t, you won’t care.

More importantly, it’s a moot point if you find yourself in one of AT&T’s older EDGE network areas, which predominate outside of major cities.  The EDGE standard doesn’t let you talk and browse at the same time either.

Broadband Reports notes “it seems like AT&T might just be better served by not talking anymore, and just focusing on getting tower sites and backhaul links upgraded. How many upgraded cell sites would Luke Wilson’s salary have paid for? How many backhaul links could have been upgraded with the money spent suing Verizon? Fixing the capacity and coverage issues that have been plaguing AT&T would do more than any ad campaign.”

Apple’s “me too” ads promote the same concurrent use of phone and data applications on the iPhone, but also ignore the pesky fact that those stuck in AT&T’s vast EDGE network will discover it’s a distinction without a difference.

Watch all five ads below.

AT&T Mobility Ads

http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/ATT Luke Wilson Two Phones Ad.flv

“Two Phones” — Luke Wilson demonstrates how Verizon Wireless customers have to juggle between talking on their phones and using data applications at the same time.  (30 seconds)

http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/ATT Luke Wilson Postcards 1 Ad.flv

“Postcards #1″ — Luke Wilson skims postcards from all of the cities where AT&T provides 3G service.  (30 seconds)

http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/ATT Luke Wilson Postcards 2 Ad.flv

“Postcards #2″ — Luke Wilson picks up right where he left off in the first ad, as postcards cover the map of the United States.  (30 seconds)

Apple iPhone Ads

http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/Apple iPhone Did You See My Email Ad.mp4

Apple’s iPhone shows off the ability to web browse and talk at the same time on the AT&T network.  (30 seconds)

http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/Apple iPhone What Time Is The Movie Ad.mp4

Need to remind someone what time the movie starts?  Apple’s iPhone lets you talk and surf the web at the same time on the AT&T network.  (30 seconds)


Currently there are 11 comments on this Article:

  1. Ian L says:

    Wonder how Verizon feels about Apple chipping in on the whole “talk and surf” ads? I thought Verizon was going to carry an Apple product later on…

    Anyway, GSM doesn’t allow for simultaneous voice and data. WCDMA/UMTS/HSPA (AD&T 3G) does. A technicality, but worth pointing out, since there are still a ton of areas without 3G on AT&T, meaning that you not only get slow data speeds but you can’t talk while downloading to pass the time.

  2. Ben says:

    MediaCurves.com conducted a study among 337 viewers of a new commercial from AT&T. Results found that that a greater number of non-AT&T users indicated that they were extremely likely to switch to an AT&T wireless phone after viewing the commercial. Furthermore, an overwhelming majority of respondents (84%) reported that the AT&T ad was effective, with 34% indicating that is was ‘extremely effective’ and 50% reporting that it was ‘somewhat effective’.
    More in depth results can be seen at:

    • Nate K says:

      Most people also do not understand anything about 3G or what it really means, or that you can have a signal with no 3G on their 3G phone… They just know that they want it.

  3. Uncle Ken says:

    I know what 3G is. Three grand a year.

  4. dean wysocki says:

    luke wilson is such a sell out ! why deceive people like he is, i have both networks between pa ct ma and cannot hold calls on att gsm, and theres so many areas without 3g turning my iphone into a slow brick, my vz cdma has soft handoff allowing me to drive and talk across many miles without an issue and even on a bar at times.. att needs 2 bars to work well before becoming a digitize robot voice…

  5. Chris H says:

    I travel the entire eastern united states with my band. I use verizon, while my drummer has At&t for his Iphone. Not only have I seen first hand the lack of coverage by ATT, but my phone (motorola droid) surfs the web, makes phone calls, runs gps, plays games, streams Youtube vidoes all at the same time. And does it almost twice as fast. On a recent tour from Florida to Ohio we saw first hand how sparce ATT&t’s 3G coverage is. The recent ads with Luke Wilson are completly false. I guess if you pay someone enough money, they will say whatever you want them to. There needs to be some kind of law in place concerning truth in advertising. Not small print legal disclaimers you need an HDTV to read. Straight foward truth. Not data twisted and presented in a creaive way to make your sevrice look better than it actually is.

    • Ron Dafoe says:

      Well, the ad does not state 3g coverage, just that they have more total coverage. Verizon explicitly states 3g coverage only.

      • dw says:

        Actually luke is talkn 3g coverage now more then ever. Its awful. They need to discuss that just cause att says they got coverage doesn’t mean its fast or good. Most gsm phones need two bars to hold a call like my iphone yet my vz berry holds calls to the last bar. Love vz. Have em both I can’t trust a biz call on iphone.

        • Ron Dafoe says:

          Only whem talking speed of the network though, they are not talking coverage of 3g at all. They are all smart about their marketing.

          • I think most of the people seeing those ads who are paying attention probably realize the difference between 3G and EDGE/et al. and are won over by Verizon’s ads if they’ve ever experienced very s l o w performance on AT&T’s network. For the uninitiated, they probably -did- assume Verizon’s ads implied AT&T had NO coverage for data at all, because “3G” to them means $3000.00.

            I think AT&T is getting smacked for under-investing in their network, that it’s their own fault they are in this position, and Verizon called them out on it in a particularly nasty, but effective way this past Christmas.

            Turnabout could be fair play should AT&T best Verizon in some way.

            I’m rooting for an all-out price war that represents real savings for consumers instead of what we have now.

    • Jason says:

      The ads are 100% true, because AT&T is only stating they have coverage to 98% of US residents or some statistic like that, if you read the fine print they briefly flash it’s EDGE service that covers the entire map, their 3G coverage is extremely sparse as shown by the competing ads that Verizon has been keen to point out.

      Plus you’ve got AT&T having charged the full 3G data fee for iPhones in areas that haven’t ever had 3G, just EDGE service for the last 2 years or more… no discounts for providing sub-par service that they refuse to invest in while raking in required data fees and crying about their limited bandwidth.

      Unfortunately, the latest shot across the bow with a discount on unlimited talk and data plans by Verizon, and followed by AT&T are only a small discount to people that actually use those unlimited talk plans. The changes in the rest of both their respective lower tier plan options actually mean a long term price increase for the majority of customers.. so what they’ve actually done is conned everyone into thinking they were finally cutting prices while they actually raised them behind the scenes.

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