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Consumer Reports cell-service Ratings: AT&T is the worst carrier

Consumer Reports News: December 06, 2010 02:16 PM

AT&T is the lowest-scoring cell-phone carrier in the U.S., according to a satisfaction survey of 58,000 readers. Of all the carriers rated, AT&T was the only one to drop significantly in overall satisfaction.

Over half of the survey respondents who used AT&T as a carrier owned some version of the iPhone, the Apple smart phone that is exclusive to AT&T, at least for now. Consumer Reports data, reflecting all versions of the phone, found that iPhone owners were much less satisfied with their carrier and rated data service (Web and e-mail) lower than owners of smart phones on other carriers that, like the iPhone, have a host of apps to encourage heavy data use.

“Our survey suggests that an iPhone from Verizon Wireless, which is rumored, could indeed be good news for iPhone fans,” said Paul Reynolds, Electronics Editor for Consumer Reports.

Also big news this year: U.S. Cellular—which serves 26 states, mostly in the South and Midwest—beat out Verizon Wireless as the top-rated provider for contract service. Also, Sprint has pulled even in overall satisfaction with Verizon, which has been the clear top provider in our Ratings in most years since 2003. Sprint even scored better than Verizon in some aspects of customer service, in a remarkable turnaround.

The survey is part of our annual comprehensive cell-phone package, which hits newsstands tomorrow (Dec. 7) as part of the January issue of Consumer Reports. It will also post online at CRO tomorrow morning. Subscribers will be able to get full Ratings and all the details on the story, including city-by-city Ratings for 23 metro areas.

Carol Mangis

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