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Cingular Sprint Fight over Network Quality Ads

Cingular Sprint Fight over Network Quality Ads
By LongDistanceUS.com on Friday, June 2 2006

Inter-carrier tussles over advertising claims have led to a lawsuit, and Cingular Wireless L.L.C. wants an Atlanta court to validate its assertion that its network has the fewest dropped calls among national carriers.

The suit was sparked by Sprint Nextel Corp.’s challenge to Cingular’s claim. According to Sprint Nextel spokesman Matt Sullivan, Sprint Nextel filed a compliant with the National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau, alleging Cingular does not have the fewest dropped calls. The NAD handles such challenges confidentially, and generally releases information on the issue only when the matter is resolved. However, the NAD closed its review of Cingular’s claim when Cingular decided to take the matter to court.

About two weeks ago, Cingular filed a lawsuit against Sprint Nextel in federal court in Atlanta, Sullivan said, requesting a declaratory judgment from the court that its “fewest dropped calls” claim was not misleading. Cingular also accused Sprint Nextel of hoodwinking customers with its “most powerful network” claim.

Sullivan said Sprint Nextel was preparing its response to Cingular’s court filing and would “defend itself vigorously.” Sprint Nextel’s chief financial officer, Paul Saleh, said during analyst conferences in New York this week that the carrier plans to evolve its marketing to place more emphasis on the power of its network.

Cingular spokesperson Mark Siegel said that the fewest dropped calls advertising campaign reflects the dramatic improvements that Cingular has made to its network during the past year and a half. He said the carrier funneled $6.5 billion into its network last year, and plans about the same this year.

“By any objective measure, Cingular has a more powerful network than Sprint, and we think Sprint knows that,” he said.

The lawsuit, Siegel said, was filed in order to get Sprint Nextel to stop its ads “and to make crystal clear that our own claims about our network are justified.”

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