Dial Zero
A look at what's surprising, silly, scary or stupid in telecommunications and data

Friday, November 20, 2009

Ebay sells Skype at a loss

Skype is software that allows people to make phone calls over the Internet. Calls to other users of the service are free. Calls to landline phones and cellphones generally have a fee.

The company that developed Skype was bought by eBay in 2005 for $2.6 billion. eBay hoped that users of its auctions would use Skype to communicate, but few of them did.

EBay is now completing the sale of 70% of Skype for about $2 billion to a group that includes the founders of Skype. Ebay will keep 30 percent.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

AT&T sues Verizon over cellphone ad

AT&T is suing Verizon Wireless over Verizon's "There's a Map for That" commercials, saying that the ads are misleading and deceptive.

AT&T filed the suit in Georgia and is asking for a temporary restraining order and a permanent injunction to stop the ads. AT&T said it has "suffered and continues to suffer irreparable harm" from the commercials.

Verizon's ads show maps of the United States with areas highlighted to depict where high speed "3G" network coverage is available. The maps use red for Verizon and blue for AT&T to show where each company offers 3G coverage. There are blank spaces where no 3G is available.

In one ad, the narrator says, "If you want to know why your 3G coverage works so well on Verizon Wireless, there's a map for that," and a map of the country nearly covered with red dots is shown. The narrator later says "If you want to know why some people have spotty G3 coverage, there's a map for that, too" and a map of the country with some blue areas and a lot of blank space is shown to ostensibly show AT&T's 3G coverage.

AT&T says those maps are misleading because there is still regular coverage in areas where "3G" service is not offered.

Verizon modified the ads after AT&T complained about them saying its customers were "out of touch" where 3G coverage was unavailable. Those words were taken out and Verizon included a tag line saying "Voice & data services available outside 3G coverage areas" at the end of the ads.

Verizon spokeswoman Nancy Stark said the changes are sufficient, and "As to the merits of the suit, there aren't any. The ads are clearly labeled 3G coverage and they also clearly state that voice and data service is available outside the 3G coverage area." (info from The Associated Press)