T-Mobile Scoots Past Verizon, Builds Lead Over AT&T in Consumer Survey

Business owners that previously have dismissed T-Mobile as a lower-quality alternative to cellular giants AT&T and Verizon might want to take a second look.

Consumer Reports is out with its annual survey that asks readers about their satisfaction with the big four wireless operators — and it’s T-Mobile that tops the list, with 73 points out of a possible 100. If your business uses any of the other big three, you can feel good that none was far behind; Verizon tallied 70 points, AT&T got 68 and Sprint earned 67.

Verizon, however, has to deal with this being the first year that it did not top Consumer Reports’ rankings. The well-known publication based its scores on readers’ opinions of their carriers’ value, texting services, customer support, Web problems, data speeds and voice quality. Verizon pooh-poohed the results.

“We’ve always said that the most accurate performance measurement comes from scientific-based testing, not from crowd-sourced or survey data,” said Chuck Hamby, a Verizon spokesman, in a prepared statement published by CNN. “Verizon will remain focused on providing the best wireless network and experience possible for our customers, not on accolades.”

Outspoken T-Mobile CEO John Legere had a different take, bellowing on Twitter: “I told you #WeWontStop!! This is just the beginning!”

Speaking of accolades, it might be the best of many for T-Mobile since beginning its “un-carrier” marketing blitz more than two years ago. That’s also about the time that it started a significant upgrade in its wireless network. The company unveiled a partner program at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo in February 2014, but has been relatively quiet on that front since, with the exception of adding some master agents to the program in the months following.

Breaking down the survey, T-Mobile was ranked tops among consumers for customer support and value. Verizon and AT&T still got props for best data and call quality. Consumer Reports readers said Sprint was last in data speeds and Internet-surfing quality. That being said, the Overland Park, Kansas-based carrier saw the biggest improvement from last year, up eight points – thanks to price cuts and improvement in network quality. Verizon and T-Mobile were in a virtual tie overall last year, with 69 points apiece.

Consumer Reports also ranked regional and discount carriers, finding that Consumer Cellular – the top-rated service overall – beat all of the big four. So did Ting, Jitterbug, Virgin Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Credo.

Follow senior online managing editor Craig Galbraith on Twitter.

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