In one of the most-played TV commercials Sprint has ever made, the former Verizon “Can you hear me now?” guy seems to be telling us that Sprint is within 1% as good as Verizon or AT&T and we would be foolish to pay 2X more for something only 1% better. But is he really telling us that Sprint is within 1% “just as good” as Verizon or AT&T? Lets take a close look at what the “Can you hear me now guy” actually says in these commercials.
In this commercial the guy getting a haircut says “I’m hearing good things about the [Sprint] network” to which Paul, the former Verizon spokesman says:
“All the networks are great now. We’re talking a 1% difference in reliability of each other”
He then goes on to say “..and Sprint saves you 50% on most current national carrier rates.. If you got 1% more haircut than me today would you really pay twice as much?”
So we would all be idiots to pay twice us much for AT&T or Verizon when they are only 1% better than Sprint, right? Sure we would, IF Sprint is really 1% “as good as” Verizon or AT&T.
What the Can You Hear Me Now? guy actually says in this commercial:
“All the networks are great now. We’re talking a 1% difference in reliability of each other“
When he says this, the following fine-print is displayed: “Network reliability claim based on third-party drive test average (voice & data) in top 106 markets.”
This particular third-party test, performed by RootMetrics does show Sprint within 1% of the leader, Verizon for reliability.
What this test measured:
But the Sprint guy is leaving out a few very important items about this test.
- This was a “network reliability test”
- The tests have a relatively small sample size
This means that Sprint is “just as good as Verizon” in the “Network Reliability” category, but he fails to mention how well Sprint measured up in the other categories also tested, Speed, Data Performance, Call Performance, and Text Performance.
- In the network speed category Sprint finished LAST with a score of 88.8 and Verizon finished first with a score of 93.2.
- In the Data Performance category Sprint finished LAST with a score of 95 and Verizon finished first with a score of 97.1
- In the Call Performance category, Sprint and Verizon tied with a score of 100
- In the Text Performance category, Sprint finished LAST with score of 98.8 and AT&T finished first with a score of 99.6
These test scores are still “good”, but not mentioned in the TV commercial which instead only mentions the “Reliability” score. (scores mentioned above are specific to the Orlando market, but are similar in the other 105 major cities where testing was performed).
What this test did not measure:
Mobile network ‘reliability’ is an important metric but if you have ever had to hold your phone up over your head to try and get a signal somewhere, you would probably agree that COVERAGE is the most important factor when determining which mobile carrier is the best. Mobile phone network coverage, meaning will you have signal when you go somewhere, is not the same as “reliability” – a “reliable” network means nothing if you don’t have a signal (coverage) and can’t make a call, yet the “can you hear me now?” guy fails to mention this in any of the Sprint commercials.
Where the test data was collected:
Many people watching this TV commercial would assume that Sprint is “as good as” AT&T or Sprint anywhere in the country, but, they would be wrong. The tests referred to in this TV commercial were performed only in only 106 cities in the United States – that is an average of just over two cities per state. This means that if you live anywhere except one of those areas, anything said in this commercial may not apply to you.
If you live in one of the cities tested, and if you don’t take into consideration having a mobile-signal or not (coverage) and only care about “reliability”, then Sprint really is “just as good” as AT&T or Verizon. If however, you are part of the 98% of the country that was not included in these tests, or, if “coverage” is more important than “reliability”, then you may want to think twice before switching to Sprint.
TL;DR: Sprint was only tested in a few cities and “reliability” is not the same as ‘coverage’ which matters more to some people.