Slap! Sprint Loses Most Dependable 3G Claim to Verizon

Like a contestant in a VH1 reality dating show, Verizon Wireless is picking its rivals off, one by one. Fresh from its bloody victory against AT&T, wherein it won the right to advertize how crappy the latter’s 3G coverage is, it is now turning its sights to the other big competitor, Sprint-Nextel Corp.. VzW is saying that Sprint cannot accurately claim to have “America’s most dependable 3G network.”

Verizon in fact went to the Better Business Bureau and recommended that Sprint pull its ads making that statement. The advertising arm of the BBB agreed, and ruled Tuesday that Sprint should stop using the tagline.

It said that it has “determined that the best evidence to support its current ‘most dependable’ claim is the most recent Nielsen drive test data,” which is gathered by techs driving through areas and testing network conditions. That data shows Verizon as having lower connection failure rates and better session reliability than Sprint.

The BBB also said that signal strength—which Sprint wins on—has nothing to do with reliability.

“We are appealing the decision,” a Sprint spokesman said in a statement.

“The [advertising arm of the BBB] is mistaken in its determination that signal strength is not relevant to dependability,” he continued. “Between 70-80 percent of 3G data use takes place indoors, and the Nielsen signal strength tests indicate whether a signal is likely to penetrate a building and provide coverage inside. If a 3G signal is too weak to penetrate a building, a subscriber will not be able to dependably connect to the network.”

The recommendation that Sprint discontinue the use of the “most dependable” lingo is just that: a recommendation. However, it will be strongly pressured by the industry to follow what the BBB says it should do.

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