Thursday, May 06, 2010

Despite promises, AT&T's dropped calls rate continues to worsen

In January, AT&T announced that it would spend $2 billion this year to improve its oft-criticized cellular network. However, it has yet to reap the benefits of any such spending, according to a recent survey by ChangeWave Research.

With regards to the most dropped calls, there's not contest. It's AT&T all the way.

Click here for the Best Buy Weekly SpecialsAs consumers might expect, the report notes that Verizon has the least number of dropped calls. It's followed by Sprint, T-Mobile, and then AT&T.

It's particularly unfortunate that T-Mobile and AT&T trail; they use GSM technology, and GSM is dominant worldwide as opposed to Verizon and Sprint's CDMA.

The poll asked 4,040 smartphone users in March how many dropped calls they had experienced in the past three months. Verizon users said they had dropped only 1.5 percent of their calls, Sprint users 2.4 percent, T-Mobile users 2.8 percent, and AT&T users 4.5 percent. That's a sad 3x the number of dropped calls that Verizon users see.

Worse, the above chart shows an upward trend to dropped calls for AT&T, while Verizon's graph is steadily downward. Is it any wonder consumers salivate at the mention of a possible Verizon iPhone?

Of course, some have theorized that even Verizon's network would break under the weight of the iPhone's data usage. If in fact we get a Verizon iPhone at the end of this year, as is rumored, we may find out.

Update: we received the following statement from AT&T:
"Statistically valid drive test shows the AT&T network continues to deliver the nation's fastest 3G network and near best-in-class call retainability nationwide. AT&T's network dropped only 1.44 percent of calls nationwide, within two-tenths of 1 percent of the industry leader and a difference of less than two calls out of 1,000.

"Those results, from GWS, show that, on a national basis, AT&T is within just two-tenths of a percent of the industry leader in wireless call retainability. That's a difference of just two calls in a thousand, a virtual dead-heat.

"The opinions compiled in the survey you mention are dramatically at odds with actual quantitative results derived from millions of calls made during extensive drive-testing of the AT&T mobile broadband network by a highly respected outside firm."
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