Verizon Uses High Reliability Ranking To Knock T-Mobile
By Matt Day. Updated February 23, 2017.
Verizon is firing back at T-Mobile's aggressive marketing campaigns, pointing to fresh data showing the telecommunications giant offers the most reliable U.S. wireless service.
RootMetrics' latest reading on U.S. wireless performance, released late Wednesday, has Verizon tops in national reliability, network speed, and data, call and text performance. AT&T came in second, followed by Sprint and T-Mobile.
T-Mobile US CEO John Legere is known for taking to Twitter to lambaste Verizon and the company's other rivals. His outspoken persona is a cornerstone of a marketing strategy that helped the Bellevue-based company leapfrog Sprint to become the No. 3 U.S. wireless carrier by subscribers.
"Just because you said in an ad or tweet it, it doesn't necessarily mean it's true," Nicki Palmer, Verizon's chief technology officer, said in an interview. "We have extended our lead," she added, pointing to the RootMetrics data.
"We invest more in our networks than any other carrier; we have for a long time," Palmer said. "That's foundational."
More than 90 percent of U.S. households already pay for wireless service, making the country an expensive battleground in which carriers use investments in technology and branding to try to get customers to defect.
T-Mobile, majority owned by Germany's Deutsche Telekom, has played an insurgent role in the U.S., taking steps like eliminating charges for exceeding data-usage caps and including taxes in its basic billing rates. Some of those moves were subsequently copied by rivals.
Verizon and AT&T, meanwhile, have at times tried to tout their other offerings that wireless-only T-Mobile and Sprint can't match, from home internet bundles to video or internet content.
Verizon has also emphasized the quality of its network, pointing to studies like the RootMetrics report released Wednesday. The company's public-relations group, in an email Wednesday, highlighted passages of the report that were critical of T-Mobile's service quality.
The nationwide RootMetrics survey, based on 3.6 million network tests in a variety of environments, from urban indoor areas to towns and rural highways, showed Verizon ahead of its rivals in all categories with a score of 93.9. AT&T stood at 90.5, Sprint at 84.7 and T-Mobile at 81.2. The ranking order was unchanged from the previous edition of the twice-yearly report.
Verizon also held the top ranking for service in a majority of states and the most major metro areas, followed by AT&T.
T-Mobile fired back at the survey, pre-emptively posting comments Wednesday by Chief Technology Officer Neville Ray questioning the metrics behind the report. RootMetrics data, based on sampling by consultants, is less reliable than crowdsourced usage data that shows how people are using their phones, he said.
"The network studies Verizon touts are like using CD sales to rank today's hit songs," Ray said.
Ray also suggested that RootMetrics data reflected a bias, repeating a refrain from Legere a year ago. RootMetrics charges Verizon and other companies a fee for using its figures in advertisements. T-Mobile doesn't pay to use RootMetrics data, a spokeswoman said.
RootMetrics, based in Bellevue and owned by business-data giant IHS Markit, defended its objectivity, calling the study "fiercely independent" in a statement outlining its metrics.
One area where RootMetrics data and some of T-Mobile's preferred studies agree is the contrast between the carrier's stronger service in urban areas and its weaker performance elsewhere.
A 2016 report by the Federal Communications Commission estimated that Verizon's high-speed data coverage was available for 97.4 percent of U.S. residents, while AT&T checked in at 97.2 percent, T-Mobile at 93.1 percent and Sprint at 85.6 percent.
T-Mobile's and Sprint's wireless-coverage deficit to their larger rivals widens outside of major urban areas, the report said.