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Nextel sues Verizon Wireless

Sep 24, 20032 mins
Cellular NetworksEnterprise ApplicationsVerizon

Nextel Communications this week filed a lawsuit in New York against Verizon Wireless, charging the latter’s walkie-talkie advertising campaign is deceiving.

Nextel wants the court to ban Verizon Wireless from saying “its walkie-talkie service is available on the best, most reliable network.” Nextel is also seeking damages.

Nextel says that Verizon Wireless is violating federal and New York State advertising laws. The service provider goes on to say in a printed statement, “it’s unseemly that Verizon Wireless would knowingly choose deception over the truth,” said Len Kennedy, general counsel at Nextel. “Nextel’s push-to-talk (PTT) service is widely acknowledged to be a superior product that provides a better and more reliable service with faster and instant connections than does Verizon Wireless’ recently launched walkie-talkie product.”

Up until last month, Nextel was unique in offering PTT, which it markets under the name Direct Connect. But Verizon Wireless changed that when it launched its PTT feature.

Early next year, most of the national wireless service providers, including AT&T Wireless and Sprint PCS, are expected to launch this feature. 

PTT allows users to instantly connect with other users on the same service by simply clicking a button. Users typically have other walkie-talkie user IDs already programmed into their handheld device. This allows customers to scan for a PTT user ID and push a button and instantly communicate.

Despite Nextel’s claims that it wasn’t concerned with the new competition, folks behind the scenes have clearly been watching. And which PTT service is superior — Nextel’s or Verizon Wireless’ — may be a moot point because Nextel’s interpretation of Verizon Wireless’ ad seems off-target.

Verizon Wireless is not claiming the best or most reliable walkie-talkie service; it’s claiming the service is available on the best, most reliable network.

But that’s for the courts to decide.