Verizon, T-Mobile Butt Heads at Super Bowl

Verizon and T-Mobile took their 5G squabble to the Super Bowl this weekend, with each attempting to out-snark the other.

Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies

February 3, 2020

2 Min Read
Verizon, T-Mobile Butt Heads at Super Bowl

Verizon and T-Mobile spent millions of dollars on Super Bowl-related marketing campaigns this weekend that essentially boiled down to a series of snide, 5G-related jabs at each other. Sprint and AT&T, meanwhile, sat on the sidelines.

At the heart of the squabble between Verizon and T-Mobile is the spectrum they're using for 5G. Verizon bought billions of dollars of millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum from the likes of XO and Straight Path, and is now in the process of using that highband spectrum to build a 5G network in parts of some downtown areas around the US. T-Mobile, meanwhile, spent almost $8 billion on 600MHz spectrum during the FCC's 2017 incentive auction, and is now in the process of using that lowband spectrum to build a nationwide 5G network.

Due to physics of signal propagation in these kinds of spectrum bands, Verizon's 5G can't cover much territory but it can carry lots of data, while T-Mobile's 5G can cover large geographic areas but isn't much faster than 4G.

Here's Verizon's big 5G-themed message this weekend:

And here is T-Mobile's big Super Bowl ad spot:

Both carriers sought to score the last word after the game, with T-Mobile CEO John Legere penning a long blog post that in part blasts Verizon's 5G for "sad, spotty coverage in random parts of some areas of some cities." It's worth noting that T-Mobile also operates a similar mmWave 5G network across seven US cities -- just like Verizon.

Meantime, Verizon made sure to point out that its 4G network in some cases is faster than T-Mobile's 5G network. And it's worth noting that Verizon plans to eventually expand its own 5G nationwide using its own lowband spectrum holdings -- just like T-Mobile.

If you're judging the quarrel purely by YouTube views then T-Mobile won, according to a Variety tally of the top Super Bowl ads.

But of course the real winner is Fox, which broadcast the Super Bowl and therefore reaped the profits from sky-high advertising fees levied equally against both Verizon and T-Mobile.

Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

About the Author(s)

Mike Dano

Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading

Mike Dano is Light Reading's Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies. Mike can be reached at [email protected], @mikeddano or on LinkedIn.

Based in Denver, Mike has covered the wireless industry as a journalist for almost two decades, first at RCR Wireless News and then at FierceWireless and recalls once writing a story about the transition from black and white to color screens on cell phones.

Subscribe and receive the latest news from the industry.
Join 62,000+ members. Yes it's completely free.

You May Also Like