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11/19/2009
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AT&T Loses Bid To Stop Verizon Ads

Verizon may continue to air its 3G comparison ads, judge rules.

A federal judge has declined to grant AT&T a temporary restraining order on a series of Verizon Wireless advertisements that compare the carriers' 3G networks.

AT&T said the "There's A Map For That" series of ads has caused irreparable harm because it misleads viewers into thinking AT&T does not have wireless data coverage over a wide portion of the United States. The ads show a side-by-side comparison of the companies' 3G data coverage and claim that Verizon has more than five times the 3G coverage of AT&T.

AT&T is not disputing the claim, but it said that not including AT&T's 2G and 2.5G coverage in the comparison can lead viewers to believe that AT&T's wireless data network is far smaller than it really is. The wireless carrier filed a lawsuit to stop these ads, and it had hoped to get the ads pulled while the courts settled the matter.

"While we are disappointed with the court's decision on our request for a temporary restraining order, we still feel strongly that Verizon's ads mislead consumers into thinking that AT&T doesn't offer wireless service in large portions of the country, which is clearly not the case," said AT&T spokesperson Jenny Bridges in an e-mail. "We look forward to presenting our case to the court in the near future."

In a response filing, Verizon said AT&T's lawsuit is meritless, and the 3G map comparisons are accurate and "the truth hurts." Verizon also said its main rival has not adequately invested in its mobile data infrastructure to keep up with growing demand.

The moves come as the carriers are battling for mobile data users because these types of subscribers produce more revenue than voice-only customers. AT&T has more than double the amount of smartphone subscribers than Verizon, thanks to the success of Apple's iPhone, but Verizon is making a bigger push for high-end users with sophisticated devices like the Motorola Droid.

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