T-Mobile and Verizon had their own Super Bowl, fighting over 4G speeds and 5G strategies

T-Mobile and Verizon had their own Super Bowl, fighting over 4G speeds and 5G strategies
There's been a lot of talk about the potential detrimental effects of the merger between T-Mobile and Sprint on competition in the US wireless industry, as the market would shift from four to three major players, but sometimes it feels like there are already only two carriers that really matter anyway.

Interestingly, Verizon appears to have finally taken the gloves off after years of suffering advertising abuse from T-Mobile in relative silence, which Team Magenta skipper John Legere is interpreting as a sign that the nation's largest wireless service provider has realized at last "who the real network competition is."

In a fairly lengthy official T-Mobile blog post published mere hours ahead of the Super Bowl on Sunday, Legere points out Big Red is all of a sudden doing something "they never even cared about before", and spending big bucks in the process. Namely, Verizon is viciously attacking the "Un-carrier's" 5G network at the promotional expense of its own... 4G LTE signal. But let's start from the beginning and recap everything Big Red has done in the last few days to prompt this Legere reaction.

Multiple ads directly and indirectly targeting T-Mobile


Instead of focusing on simply pushing the "5G built right" rhetoric almost obsessively used in recent months, Verizon chose an odd and confusing message for its main 60-second Super Bowl spot. The carrier decided to highlight all "the amazing things 5G won't do" in a commercial that tried way too hard to be heartwarming and inspiring, largely failing if we look at the current YouTube dislike count, not to mention the very small number of views to begin with.


While T-Mobile's name is not explicitly mentioned in these 60 seconds, the ad's narrator kicks off his "uplifting" speech with several examples of somewhat exaggerated 5G marketing claims that could be attributed to Magenta, which promised, among others, free 5G access to first responders nationwide... if its Sprint merger is ultimately cleared. 

Of course, Verizon has been hyping up 5G advancements for quite some time now too, and it almost feels like the carrier is walking back its own promises or at least trying to play down their impact on people's lives.



That message is made a lot clearer by a series of shorter and less pretentious ads starring actress Jenny Slate as she compares the real-world speeds of T-Mobile 5G and Verizon 4G service. Although the comparisons are obviously flattering to what many people might expect to be the inferior network, it's still a little bizarre to see Big Red advertising 4G LTE technology in 2020.

John Legere hits back and Anthony Anderson drives the point home


It's certainly unusual to see the always combative T-Mobile CEO hit back at a rival rather than start a war of words, but Legere is relishing the change of pace, celebrating Verizon's newfound hostility... and jealousy. The way the charismatic businessman sees it, Big Red is beginning to admit defeat, knowing full well its bet on milllimeter wave 5G technology was wrong.


Naturally, only time (and the conclusion of the Sprint merger saga) will tell if Legere is right, but while it might be true that Verizon's 4G LTE network is crazy fast in many places, it's also definitely true that Big Red's 5G signal is horrible at penetrating walls, hot dog stands, and even other people. Instead of focusing on speed, T-Mobile has chosen to lay the groundwork of its nationwide 5G network by paying more attention to coverage.


As a result, Anthony Anderson's mama can get a 5G signal at the pie shop, in the park, at the aquarium, in the parking garage, at the beach, in the elevator, movie theater, kitchen, and yes, even in the club in a hilarious, simple, and unpretentious new commercial that does a much better job both entertaining and informing its viewers than Verizon's latest publicity stunts.


While T-Mobile might not be ready to take the 5G... or 4G LTE speed crown yet, it's hard to challenge John Legere's argument that his company is looking towards the future, as well as winning the advertising fight of the present.

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