Rogers Suing Bell Over “Most Reliable Network” Claim…. Huh?

I got an e-mail this afternoon from Keith McArthur who is Roger’s “Senior Director, Social Media and Digital Communications” with something that I never saw coming. Here’s the e-mail in full:

I know you’ve been following the debate over Canada’s most reliable network and wanted to share a new development with you.

Rogers has filed against Bell Canada today in British Columbia asking for an injunction blocking Bell from claiming that it operates Canada’s most reliable network.  Bell is claiming superiority based on a new, unproven network with virtually no customers. In addition, a recent public opinion poll by Ipsos confirms that most Canadians agree that network reliability is not something that can be claimed by a new, unproven network with no track record.

  • We are challenging Bell’s claim and asking the Court stop Bell from using false and misleading messages in its advertisements
  • Consumers need to know that Bell has no valid support to claim faster speed and more reliability on a network that has virtually no customers and no proven track record on this new network. Bell is falsely misleading customers about the size, the speed and the reliability of its network
  • The vast majority of Bell customers are still using an old CDMA network and aren’t enjoying the benefits of the new HSPA network, contrary to what is falsely implied in their ads
  • Even Telus has recognized that the Rogers network is more reliable than the Telus EVDO network still being used by the vast majority of Telus customers. The Court in BC also recognized this advantage enjoyed by Rogers over the past years
  • We’re confident that once Bell and Telus have customers on their new network, we will demonstrate through rigorous testing that we are still more reliable

Public Opinion Poll

  • Almost all Canadians polled (94%) by Ipsos said that before a carrier can claim to have the most reliable network, it must have a proven track record of delivering a superior network service over time
  • Almost all those polled (93%) said that before a carrier can claim to have the most reliable network, it must have been able to, over time, deliver a superior network service while serving a substantial number of consumers
  • Eight in 10 Canadians polled said a brand new network with no track record of actual service to a significant number of customers cannot claim to be the most reliable in Canada
  • This survey was completed by Ipsos on Nov. 10, 2009. It is considered accurate within 3.1 percentage points 19 times out of 20

I’ll ignore the part about Mark Goldberg. Frequent readers know what I think of him.

Although they didn’t exactly come out on top against Telus (although there is an appeal pending), I have to admit that Rogers talking points are interesting. It is true that most Bell (and Telus customers for that matter) are still on on the CDMA/EVDO network (Although Bell is free to say otherwise. Bell PR types are free to e-mail me to dispute Rogers arguments) as I type this. But as good as their talking parts are, I think Rogers might want to consider what I wrote in this article:

Bell and Telus have only one chance to get this right, and I think they know it. If they screw this up, they might as well hand the entire Canadian cell phone market to Rogers as they will not get a second chance. That will force them to make sure that everything is just right.

My guess is Bell will do whatever it has to try and prove that their network is the “most reliable” as they likely did their homework to make their network operate flawlessly. So I expect them to roll to up court and put up a really good fight on that front. No guarantees on them winning as anything is possible in court.

The stakes are so high with this, I fully expect this fight to get really ugly. Stay tuned.

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