A Tale of Two Networks

Initially I had the idea to sit down and write a really lengthy article comparing Verizon’s iPhone 4 to AT&T’s iPhone 4. With great detail being paid to how much better Verizon’s voice network was than AT&T’s, but how AT&T’s data network would smoke Verizon’s in an actual speed test. Truth is, no matter how much we, or BGR, or Engadget say that they are essentially the same device, consumer perspective says otherwise. In fact, no matter how much faster the AT&T iPhone is, most customers are going to switch simply because of the perception that Verizon has the better voice network, and because AT&T isn’t offering the unlimited data plan anymore. Key word there, is perception as anybody will tell you, AT&T and Verizon are identical and it solely depends on the market you’re in.

Being based in Michigan, I really don’t see much of the congestion from AT&T that you would normally hear about while reading an article on BGR, or Engadget, and for the most part, my AT&T device works to perfection, with little to no dropped calls. In fact, I love using my AT&T phone simply because the mobile web is so much faster without the need to connect to Wi-Fi. My Verizon phone always works beautifully, and most of the time the speed issue really isn’t much of an issue for me personally, as I’m almost always connected to a wireless network which negates AT&T’s “need for speed” marketing blitz. Here’s the biggest X-Factor, Verizon’s LTE network is either already deployed, or coming very soon to a market near you, which will be yet another weapon to bring Verizon closer and closer to obliterating every single competitive edge AT&T claims to have. Once that happens, the question will then turn to, what can AT&T do to save it’s image?

Since the announcement of AT&T attempting to buy T-Mobile USA, Verizon has made it well known that they have no intentions of trying to buy Sprint, even going so far as to say, “We don’t need them.” With those very words, Verizon has seemingly made AT&T look inferior for depending on another carrier to fix it’s issues. Here’s the issue with that, just a few short years ago, Verizon did the same exact thing, when it gobbled up Altel’s network and customers, to help roll out it’s slowly moving 3G network to the masses. In doing so, they captured America’s hearts by marketing themselves as having the most reliable 3G network, and by highlighting AT&T’s shortcomings in bigger markets and making them seem as though they were present on a national level. Ever since then, it’s been a constant barrage of negative marketing aimed at AT&T and their unreliable network, and over the course of five short years AT&T has become the network that people love to hate.

Here’s where T-Mobile comes into play. They are the network people love to love. The underdog in this rat race to number one superiority of America’s dollars, and just the thing AT&T needs to pull out of the slump and recapture the popularity it’s lost because of bad decisions made at the top. T-Mobile has the spectrum, and most important of all, the youth that AT&T needs to restore it’s image. At the top of AT&T are what i like to refer to as “old heads”, the hard nose CEO’s of old who are only concerned about one thing, and that’s profitability. Which isn’t a bad thing, but in today’s market and especially today’s economy, keeping your stock holders happy isn’t enough to keep your company relative in the eyes of today’s ADHD consumers. Bringing in some of T-Mobile’s fresh minded talent would also bring in a fresh perspective and a much needed “out of the box” approach to change customer perspective and some of the near idiotic policies that have been implemented in years past. Make no secrets about it, T-Mobile arguably has the most impressive catalog of handsets, but most impressive of all, is how they have maintained some of the best customer service and customer policies around which is yet another area AT&T constantly scores low in. By absorbing T-Mobile, not only would AT&T have the resources to change customer perception of their company, but also the talent to change customer perception of Verizon’s as well.

All in all, we could totally be grasping at straws here, as the deal won’t be finalized for another year, and it could be months more before the FCC actually approves or denies this deal. One thing is for sure, as long as AT&T is willing to put aside its own bullheadedness and allow itself to literally pull a Verizon and get younger, they have a fighting chance to turn this thing around. If not, then they will allow themselves to become the biggest wireless company around, and years later get broken up. Again.