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AT&T gets last place in Consumer Reports carrier tests

updated 12:00 pm EST, Mon December 6, 2010

ATT at back of Consumer Reports call, data results

AT&T is at the back of the rankings for carrier service quality in the US, Consumer Reports said in its latest paper issue. Having already been near the back in the 2009 study, its overall score this year was just 60, well back from T-Mobile's 69. It ranked as "worse" in every category except for text messaging, where it was still below average.

US Cellular had the top spot at 82 while Verizon and Sprint were unusually close at 74 and 73, respectively.

The study also made a preemptive rebuttal of claims that AT&T issues were only limited to major trouble spots such as New York City and San Francisco. AT&T scored the lowest in cities like Denver, Detroit and Houston, with Verizon almost always having the highest score. A lone victory came from the iPhone 4 and the Samsung Captivate tying for the best phones along with other Galaxy S phones on other networks, such as the Epic 4G at Sprint and Vibrant at T-Mobile. Verizon here unusually fared just slightly worse with 75-point scores for its Galaxy S variant, the Fascinate, as well as the Motorola Droid X.

An AT&T spokesperson responded to the tests, repeating its familiar insistence that it led speed tests and that its dropped call rate was near-identical to others. The study has been challenged as it was both conducted by the same company that tests AT&T's network and didn't break down results by area, which would have likely shown major issues in key cities.

AT&T has fought to upgrade its network aggressively since virtually the start of iPhone service. Despite improvements, though, it has still had trouble keeping up with demand even with a move to the much more open 850MHz 3G band and significant capacity upgrades. Verizon hasn't been growing as quickly as AT&T due to the iPhone's current exclusivity, but it has also coped with its network load even with a large number of Android phones.

A widely expected Verizon iPhone may both help users by mating the phone with better service in the short term but also by improving AT&T's load, as customers in some locations may defect to Verizon and reduce the strain on the existing network. [via Houston Chronicle]

by MacNN Staff



  1. droz

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Consumer Reports is a joke! They are no longer relevant.

  1. JuanGuapo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Maybe I'm in the minority, but...

    I've not had any issues with AT&T since I signed up with them ala the iPhone 3G in July '08. Customer service has been relatively good and coverage could always be better but it excels compared to T-Mobile in the Los Angeles area. I think Consumer Reports is just an opinion farm, nothing more.

  1. jdonahoe

    Joined: Dec 1969


    This is typical data from Consumer Reports

    Why can't Consumer Reports put up a graph with ALL data represented? Does Neither Sprint nor T-Mobile offer texting or data in Houston? Why even put half-assed data in a graph? Maybe data and texting are more important to someone than dropped calls. I'm with Verizon and waiting anxiously for the iPhone, but I stopped subscribing to Consumer Reports because of useless compilations like this.

  1. sibeale1

    Joined: Dec 1969



    This CU report is a gift to iPhone users. Whether or not it is accurate or failed to consider uses other than phoning, this kind of news puts enormous pressure on ATT to improve its service. Let's not forget that iPhone users are not ATT's only customers. Many people who read this article will choose Verizon for their next (non-iPhone) carrier. The bottom line will motivate ATT more effectively than any amount of whining from iPhone users.

  1. vintagegeek

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Upload Still A Disaster

    On the 3G Network Data side the download speeds are passable as you watch the web page fill from top to bottom on my iPad. However, on the upload side, here in the Philly Metro area, PA and NJ since I live in one and work in the other, the upload speed is abysmal. Plus they have to get rid of the 10MB Download limit. iPads and Netbooks are used as business devices and can readily handle Powerpoints of that size.

  1. aristotles

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Reader score? Not scientific

    These results are from a self selecting mechanism.

    I never had a problem with coverage whenever I visited the US roaming on AT&T. The cities that I've visited include: Seattle, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Honolulu.


    Joined: Dec 1969


    Consumers Report Sic!

    I am very cynical of CU. While they do some good work, lately they have done a poor job. I have been an AT&T customer now for 10 years and never had a problem anywhere in the world. Their customer service can be slow but in general is reasonable and they do make an effort to give excellent service.

    While I give AT&T 80 out of 100 on service I give them 99 on customer service.

  1. apeman88

    Joined: Dec 1969


    ATT is horrible...

    So my experience:
    All of urban Northern California is HORRIBLE!!! I work at a firm w/ about 30 iPhones in-house and wee supports about 600 iPhones at various client sites. Not one, of some 600+, iPhone user has anything good to say about AT&T ***call*** reliability. This includes Marin County, San Mateo, San Francisco, Alameda, and Silicon Valley.

    I have heard this about many other urban areas in the US.

    People that post here that AT&T is great in terms of service reliability flies in the face of many web reports, consumer reports, and my experience/observations.

  1. gskibum3

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Comment Title

    I remember back when the QuickSilver G4 was the current Macintosh tower model Consumer Reports did a made-of-fail story. They claimed that there was no way to install any hard drives beyond the single drive that comes stock.

    It was amusing because at the time I had a total of 5 drives in mine using a 4-lane SATA PCI card.

  1. Fast iBook

    Joined: Dec 1969


    5 years.

    i've been with cingular then att for 5 years, i do not have problems with billing or my service.

    - A

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