This has become a little bit of a pet topic for me. I have opined about this numerous times on how I believe some wireless companies – specifically ATT Wireless has systematically led a campaign of mis-information on the capabilities of their network.

It started with the “More Bar at More Places” commercials, followed by many commercial campaigns, culminating with the rather comical tit-for-tat spat with Verizon Wireless. Not surprisingly, they decided this week to end it and start yet another branding campaign of rebranding themselves as a lifestyle company.

So to come back to the topic of the day. We’ve all about ATT’s network and data issues. After flatly ignoring it for a while, ATT, to its credit, came out and in a qualified manner, acknowledged its network and reliability issues. The caveat was that all the issues associated with its data and voice network was solely due to the strains placed on its network by the iPhone. Fair enough – it seemed like a plausible explanation.

Not so fast. ABI Research just came out with a study that proves that ATT is – and get this – not the first, not the second but third in the volume of data it carries over its wireless networks. According to the study, Verizon Wireless is #1 with Sprint being #2 in the volume of wireless data it carries. The volumes are based not on the number of activated data devices on their network (where ATT is #1) but based on the number of broadband PC cards – where Verizon and Sprint “far exceed” ATT in the absolute numbers.

So, ATT’s abysmal data speeds and reliability seems to stem not from the fact that they have millions of iPhones provisioned on their network but from the fact that their 3G geographical spread is very limited coupled with backhaul that seems wholly inadequate in dealing with data. Its purely a network issue folks.

I have always maintained that Sprint has one of the best and most robust wireless data networks in the United States. And this study is yet another vindication of what I consider an absolute fact.