Sorry, AT&T: Youre Still the Worst Survey

Consumer Reports is back with another survey of wireless carriers, and the news isnt good for AT&T, which continues to be dogged by complaints about dropped calls and generally poor service.

The survey, published last week, asked questions of more than 50,000 people in more than two dozen U.S. cities. In nearly three-quarters of those locales, AT&T ranked lowest in customer satisfaction. Verizon Wireless ranked highest overall. While AT&T has spent a lot of its PR effort in recent months touting improvements in major markets like San Francisco and New York, at least one analyst says the carrier better realize the problems are more widespread, as the survey suggests.

In a research note, Pali analyst Walter Piecyk wrote,  We believe it has been an elitist investor view that only a few high profile AT&T markets are having problems on the theory that only tech savvy residents of coastal cities would find enough use in the iPhone to impact the quality of AT&Ts network.”

In the survey, AT&T is generally criticized in several customer satisfaction categories, including dropped calls, service availability and voice service. The saving grace might be that the iPhone continues to rank at the top of Consumer Reports smartphone ratings, but when Verizon gets its version of the device anticipated early next year that could spell more trouble for AT&T.

The carrier responded to the survey, touting its third-quarter numbers and its broadband speeds.

"We take this seriously and we continually look for new ways to improve the customer experience,” AT&T said in a statement. The fact is wireless customers have choices and a record number of them chose AT&T in the third quarter, significantly more than our competitors. Hard data from independent drive tests confirms AT&T has the nation’s fastest mobile broadband network with our nearest competitor 20 percent slower on average nationwide and our largest competitor 60 percent slower on average nationwide. And, our dropped call rate is within 1/10 of a percent the equivalent of just one call in a thousand of the industry leader."

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