Friday, November 30, 2012

AT&T finishes at the bottom -- and top -- of Consumers Reports survey

It's the worst, but at the same time it's the best: AT&T finished last among the Big Four wireless carriers in terms of voice and data quality, but finished first among LTE carriers, in terms of "least complaints."

The news comes via a new Consumer Reports survey, its latest annual survey on mobile devices. The report was released on Thursday, and surveyed 63,253 cellphone subscribers.

In terms of voice and text quality, Verizon Wireless finished first again (it was tops in 2011, too). The nation's No. 1 wireless carrier earned high scores for its voice and data service quality, as well as for customer service. Sprint and T-Mobile received average scores, and ended up second and third, respectively. AT&T placed last.

AT&T finished last in 2011, as well.

It's unclear what "least complaints" means, but AT&T's LTE service has been measured to be faster than Verizon's. AT&T had the fastest 4G download speeds of any carrier at 9.12 Mbps, and Verizon was second with 7.35 Mbps.

However, Verizon has the largest LTE network, as it had a significant head start on AT&T in terms of its 4G rollout. Verizon also continues to be considered the most reliable carrier.

It does have a significant disadvantage in areas that do not have LTE service; the carrier then backs down to 3G, which is the much slower CDMA vs. AT&T's HSPA+.

Those looking for the best service might want to eschew all of the Big Four carriers. Regional carriers filled in the top three slots in Consumer Reports' survey. The top seven were:
  1. Consumer Cellular (yes, the one with the ads with the twins)
  2. U.S. Cellular
  3. Credo Mobile
  4. Verizon Wireless
  5. Sprint
  6. T-Mobile USA
  7. AT&T

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