Consumer Reports survey compares cell phone carrier services

December 8, 2010
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Lani pic 1 Consumer Reports survey compares cell phone carrier servicesThe latest Consumer Reports issue compares cell phone services with some surprising findings based on surveying 58,000 readers. With mobile phone use becoming a standard part of business, most Americans are now in a position to consider not only what device they purchase but what carrier they use. Many default to the popular phone du jour and whatever carrier they are forced to use, but what if that popular device is an iPhone and the only carrier is still AT&T? What if AT&T doesn’t rank well according to trusted source, Consumer Reports?

What if AT&T does so poorly that they are ranked last place in all categories when compared against Sprint, U.S. Cellular, Verizon and T-Mobile? What if AT&T didn’t always rank so poorly but is now experiencing consumer sentiment decline? Can AT&T begin to repair its image via marketing or must it be through technological upgrades?

In Austin, the South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) conference draws thousands of iPhone users every spring and in years past, it was a guarantee that during the conference, AT&T users would not be able to use their phones due to poor service and outages due to overuse. This spring, AT&T users were not angry. It wasn’t because AT&T sponsored SXSWi or because they threw a party, it was because they added a dozen temporary towers around downtown and the problem was solved.



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Add on top of AT&T’s Consumer Reports rankings that Verizon will soon carry the iPhone, AT&T is in a sticky spot that will take some creative maneuvering. In the hill country of Austin where we are located, we have always used Sprint because it covers rural areas and valleys better, and we simply deal with poor customer service as par for the course.

Check out the full results:

lani pic 3 Consumer Reports survey compares cell phone carrier services
Do you agree with the Consumer Reports ratings? Is it true in your area? Which carriers have you used and which ones would you never use?

On a sidenote, despite AT&T having poor rankings, they are running a hilarious (AND IRONIC) television campaign that kills me every time:

AGBeat Chief Operating Officer: Lani, named 100 Most Influential, as well as 12 Most Influential Women in Blogging, Bashh Founder, Out and about in Austin A Lister, is a business and tech writer and startup consultant hailing from the great state of Texas in the city of Austin. As a digital native, Lani is immersed not only in advanced technologies and new media, but is also a stats nerd often buried in piles of reports. Lani is a proven leader, thoughtful speaker, and vested partner at AGBeat.


  • Wherewegather

    I have had sprint for the last 6 years and love them. I get a dropped call every never. When I was unemployed last year they paid my bill for two months. After, they told me that all I had to do is pay 20 bucks a months to keep my service. I have worked for AT&T and they suck! Don’t care about there employees nor there customers. If apple did not go with AT&T they would be shit right now!

  • Kelsey Teel

    Iv’e had the same carrier for ten years which started out as Cingular and turned into AT&T in 2007. Cingular had the best service in my rural hometown as compared to the other carriers. In 2007, the year of the merger, I moved to Austin where I was satisfied with my service until fall 2009 when I got an iPhone. That is when my service and my satisfaction level started to go downhill. It was also about the time that AT&T started selling old versions of the iPhone for under $100 and the iPhone was becoming more popular. January 2010 is when it became impossible to send/receive texts on UT campus. I would have to send a text message 14 or 15 times until it finally went through. I attributed it to the concentration of students and the growing popularity of the iPhone, but it was so annoying. I was living in a house in Hyde Park where I also could not get service. I literally couldn’t talk on the phone inside my house. I remember having to hit the block in my car just to take important calls. Again, annoying.

    At the end of this summer, I was fed up and decided to take my iPhone into the Apple store and complain. It had water damage and was a week out of warranty, but they still replaced my phone immediately when I complained about the service and a few other glitches. Since then, I have been much more satisfied with my service. I don’t have any problems on campus anymore and I moved out of that house and I get perfect service in my new place.

    So I’m not sure if the problem was the iPhone I had or AT&T service. My experience is that everything was pretty peachy until they pulled the exclusive iPhone carrier card. The popularity of the iPhone overcrowded their network which lowered their level of consumer satisfaction. That’s my guess.

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  • http://www.austinrealestateguy.com/blogs/sam_chapman/rss.aspx Sam Chapman

    I have used t-Mobile for years and have been pretty happy with them. I now have a phone that tethers (acts as a wireless modem) and the data transfer speed has improved to the point that I can use the MLS and other systems that are very data heavy.

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  • http://www.movoto.com/findagent.aspx Agent for Movoto

    I’ve had Verizon for as long as I can remember, and I have no complaints. Don’t care about the i-phone – would never be worth it to switch.