Editor's Corner

Competition among operators is getting nasty. Just look at recent and planned advertisements from operators Alltel, Cingular Wireless and Sprint Nextel. These operators have taken the gloves off. They are naming names.

Check out Alltel's Web site. The operator is set to begin a major advertising campaign surrounding its MyCircle offering, which gives customers the ability to make unlimited calls to up to 10 wireless or wireline numbers from any operator, and it has some good market momentum. The advertisements will feature dopey sales guys dressed in orange, red, pink and yellow shirts to represent nationwide competitors. In a preview of what's to come, the company's Web site shows the men standing in the background, and when you click on one of them, they say stupid phrases. Verizon guy: "Who wants to talk to people outside of their network anyway? I mean, that sounds like something my mom would tell me to do." Sprint guy: "You know, ever since the merger with Nextel, we've got a lot going on. I mean, why would you want to be burdened with the Circle when you can play with walkie-talkies? Anybody up for a game of cops and robbers?"

According to an article in RCR Wireless News, the first commercial will feature the sales guys joining forces over lunch to try to stop MyCircle. The commercial will air nationally on networks including MTV, TNT, ESPN and more than 350 local network affiliates, as well as on affiliates of Spanish-language Univision and Telefutura. The overall campaign includes event advertising, radio, print, online advertising and Webisodes.

Sprint has been bashing Cingular's broadband service in commercials by showing how much faster its EV-DO network can download information than Cingular's EDGE network. It also claims to have the largest coverage area for broadband services. Nuh uh, says Cingular in several print ads called "Say Goodbye Sprint." It makes some pretty bold side-by-side comparisons with Sprint, including its assertion that it, not Sprint, has the largest high-speed data network in America as well as the largest push-to-talk network area coverage. Cingular claims the ad is in-part a response to Sprint advertisements that compare Cingular data speeds.

What's the motivation behind all of this? I think we are beginning an era reminiscent of the long-distance market. There simply aren't a lot of brand new customers to wireless. The reality is that we aren't going to see these stellar subscriber additions by almost every carrier in the industry anymore. There simply aren't a lot of untapped customers, which means carriers are going to start being aggressive about stealing them from competitors. And what better way to do it than blatantly pointing out the shortcomings of their competitors? Why not kick Sprint while it's trying to improve from its disappointing second quarter? Operators are winding up for the battle. I, for one, will enjoy the entertainment.-Lynnette