AT&T's decision to stick with copper VDSL instead of running fiber has more drawbacks than just limiting the bandwidth the telco can offer consumers. Unlike FTTH, VDSL requires the placement of occasional VRAD cabinets, which have caused a number of communities to complain about how the ugly "lawn fridges" reduce property value
In a new twist, Comcast is now using the unsightly cabinets as part of an advertising campaign against U-Verse
in the Chicago area. AT&T isn't amused, and has filed a false advertising suit against the company in Chicago court.
The VRADs are indeed large, cabinet-like boxes. But AT&T, in its complaint, says the boxes each serve up to 750 homes and only occasionally are placed on private property with the consent of the owner. "Purchasing AT&T television service offerings does not result in a VRAD being placed in a customer’s yard,” AT&T said. Comcast defended its ads in court filings, saying the VRADs “are large and unsightly” and that placement of the boxes “has generated significant public controversy in these communities.”
Verizon filed suit against Time Warner Cable earlier this month for ads that ridicule FiOS. As a lawyer told Broadband Reports then
, winning these kind of cases is difficult, as the claimant has to show hard data that proves customers were confused and
that it led to clear, material losses.
In this case, it's true that the box placement has been controversial. AT&T's probably lucky that the Comcast ads don't mention that AT&T is in the process of replacing some 17,000 potentially defective VRAD batteries -- after at least four
of the cabinets exploded.