With the increasing prevalence of the commercials on television, many people have come to question the exact accuracy of the Verizon 3G coverage maps. More specifically, representatives from AT&T have already come forward with a lawsuit decrying the inaccuracy of the comparison.
What Is 3G Wireless Technology?
One of the first matters that needs to be addressed regarding the Verizon 3G coverage map is the precise definition of 3G. In short, 3G stands for third generation and this relates to the third generation of cellular transmission technology used by the different wireless carriers. It is a general term and does not describe one specific type of technology or another.
For instance, Verizon uses what is known as CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) technology for its cellular network. This is the same technology that powers the networks of Telus Mobility and Bell Mobility in Canada. That's the "2G" technology being used as the primary network infrastructure, but faster data speeds can be offered through technology known as EVDO or Evolution Data Optimized. This is a broadband data standard used by Verizon.
If you are using a compatible smartphone like certain BlackBerry models, you can take advantage of this faster data connection to download e-mail messages to your handset or surf through several mobile web pages. Anything that requires access to the Internet will require a data connection of some sort. Moving forward, many carriers are investing in their respective launches of 4G networks.
The Verizon 3G Coverage Map Controversy
In the "There's a Map for That" advertising campaign, Verizon proudly exclaims that it has much more comprehensive coverage in the United States compared to AT&T. Whereas the AT&T coverage map, shown in blue, looks spotty in many areas across the nation, the Verizon 3G coverage map looks like it has just about everyone from sea to shining sea covered in 3G.
In the strictest sense, these commercials are accurate, but they do offer an unfair comparison. As mentioned above, 3G does not refer to one specific technology and therein lies the key difference between the coverage maps of AT&T and Verizon.
Coverage Versus Speed
Whereas Verizon uses EVDO technology for its 3G network, AT&T uses what is known as UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System), which is further broken down into HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access) and HSUPA (High-Speed Uplink Packet Access). These technologies are distinctly different in scope and, without going into the fine details, can oftentimes offer faster speeds. An equivalent AT&T 3G smartphone can usually achieve faster download speeds than a similar phone on the Verizon network. That's why the AT&T ad response touted its network's superior performance in that respect.Looking at the AT&T 3G coverage map, there appears to be many "dead zones" where coverage is not available. However, for many of these areas, consumers can get connected to the AT&T EDGE network. This uses GSM technology and it stands for "Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution." For some consumers, this "2.5G" or "2.75G" technology can actually be faster than Verizon's "3G" technology.
The Official Coverage Map for Verizon
For a more detailed map of your specific area, check out the coverage locator on the Verizon website. This Verizon 3G coverage map can be customized and adjusted as needed. This includes panning, scrolling, and zooming, as well as the ability to select the availability of certain Verizon services like V CAST Mobile TV, Push to Talk, and NationalAccess.
While this will not give you specific information about the expected download and upload speeds that you'll be able to achieve with your Verizon 3G-compatible cell phone, it can tell you whether you can expect to have suitable coverage when you are visiting different parts of the country. CDMA technology is typically better in rural areas than GSM technology and this is largely why Verizon can tout to have the largest network in the nation.