T-Mobile, Verizon take aim at AT&T as advertising wars heat up

A new ad from T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) calls AT&T Mobility's (NYSE:T) new handset upgrade program "sneaky" and "underhanded." The ad is the latest attempt by T-Mobile to paint its larger rivals AT&T and Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) as unfairly overcharging customers.

Click here to check out T-Mobile's ad.

T-Mobile's ad, which is set to run today in USA Today, takes a quote from a recent article in The Verge that said, in part, "AT&T's reaction to T-Mobile's transparency is to be more deceptive than ever."

"We wouldn't call it deceptive, exactly," T-Mobile says in the ad. "Calculating, sneaky, underhanded, maybe, but not deceptive."

T-Mobile earlier this month announced its "Jump" handset upgrade program, and AT&T and Verizon announced their own handset upgrade programs just days later. A key distinction between the plans from Verizon and AT&T and T-Mobile's Jump plan is that Verizon and AT&T are not taking the cost of a device subsidy out of their rate plans; their rate plans remain the same under the upgrade programs, but customers who want to upgrade sooner are asked to pay the cost of the device as well. Although T-Mobile's Jump program has a $10 monthly fee, T-Mobile, through its Simple Choice plans, has effectively decoupled the cost of its service (which is cheaper than service from AT&T and Verizon) from the cost of devices.

"What we're doing is materially different than these so-called upgrade programs," T-Mobile CMO Mike Sievert told CNET. Sievert told AllThingsD that the carrier will run follow-up ads on Wednesday that also target Verizon. Verizon declined to comment, according to CNET, and AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel declined to comment to FierceWireless.

In a separate war of words, Verizon took out a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal that hits back at AT&T's recent claim that its LTE network is the most reliable in the country. According to independent third-party data cited by AT&T--the source of which AT&T did not name--AT&T has "the highest success rate for delivering mobile content across nationwide 4G LTE networks." AT&T also cited recent studies from PCWorld/TechHive and PC Magazine as evidence that its LTE network is consistently faster than those of its competitors.

Verizon, which has built its reputation on its network reliability, didn't take kindly to AT&T's claim. Verizon says in its reaction ad that others have merely "tried to claim reliability."

"To us it's not a hollow claim," Verizon writes in the ad. "Or a slogan. Or a fancy ad campaign." AT&T declined to comment.

In its ad, Verizon touts the $7 billion it has spent to build out its LTE network and the testing it does to ensure the reliability of its network and devices.

The advertising war of words is indicative of both the rivalry between the nations' two largest carriers (this isn't the first time they've tussled over network reliability) as well as the importance of gaining customers in a market that is becoming increasingly saturated with each passing quarter.

For more:
- see this AllThingsD article
- see this CNET article
- see this The Verge article
- see this separate CNET article

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