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11/29/2012
09:23 AM
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Wireless Carrier Rankings: AT&T Vs. Verizon

Verizon outscored its rivals in Consumers Reports' annual rankings of wireless network operators, but not in every category.

Verizon may have won the overall top ranking in Consumer Reports' annual survey of the nation's wireless carriers, but AT&T stole the 4G title from Big Red.

Consumer Reports polled some 63,000 U.S. wireless subscribers for their thoughts on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless. The pollees gave Verizon top marks for voice quality and customer service. Sprint's network and customer support earned it second-place honors, while T-Mobile rated third and AT&T ranked dead last for the third year in a row.

What didn't consumers like about AT&T? Everything but its LTE 4G network, which they gave top marks. They rated the carrier's call quality, value and customer service as the worst of the four major network operators.

[ Mobile market share numbers are in, and for the first time in a while iOS Squeaks Past Android In U.S. ]

It's quite incredible that AT&T's 4G LTE network outmatched Verizon's, given the footprint offered by each. AT&T's network covers about 150 million Americans across 103 markets. Verizon's network covers more than 300 million Americans across more than 400 markets. Verizon's 4G network is available to significantly more people around the country. So why did it fall behind AT&T's? Speed and performance of the network.

I use AT&T and Verizon's 4G LTE networks every day, and Consumer Reports' results in this metric mirror my own experience with these 4G networks. AT&T's LTE 4G network has out-performed Verizon's in every major city to which I've traveled in the last year, including New York, San Francisco, San Diego, New Orleans, Las Vegas, etc.). I've found AT&T's LTE 4G network to be dramatically faster and much more reliable than Verizon's. (Verizon's LTE network has had several significant outages in the last year.)

According to Consumer Reports, 4G customers are generally happier than 3G customers, even though they pay more for their faster service.

The lack of available 4G hurt Sprint this year. It ranked second to Verizon, just as it did last year, but fell further behind in Consumer Reports' rating system in part because Sprint's customers don't have the same access to 4G that AT&T's and Verizon's customers have.

Sprint's LTE market can be described as nascent. It is available in 43 markets, but many of them are smaller cities and towns and not the country's largest metropolises.

Nascent is better than non-existent, which is the best term for T-Mobile USA's 4G network. It operates a quick HSPA+ data network, but it won't start rolling out LTE 4G until well into 2013.

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AlanK954
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AlanK954,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/22/2014 | 5:10:25 AM
re: Wireless Carrier Rankings: AT&T Vs. Verizon
@ilserbatoio I, too, am a former AT&T Wireless employee, 1999- end of 2002, beginning when LA Cellular was converting to AT&T.  Granted, your post is from December 2012; it is now March 2014, but I WOULD be most interested to learn your reference for more devices on Vzw's network than AT&T's.  Generally, in my experience they keep that information private/ proprietary, unless there's some press release (comparative?) or they happened to share the info in their yearly releases.

A number I/we DID see was some 178,xxx analog subscribers back in 1999/2000 who we were asked to vigorously effort to convert to Digital PCS... probably because analog would be turned off in the future, and the network can fit more subscribers in the digital format (TDMA/CDMA).


I was a call center rep/ also handing tech support and receivables.  When I left in 2002 I/we could already tell by consumer word-of-mouth that Vzw's network was superior.


On 4G, I've heard ranges of 5-35MB/s download and similar upload, based on network availability.  My first WAP phone the company paid for us to try out was analog, Ericsson 287 LX around about 2000.. good, slow times.  Ironic, when they were asking us to convert subscribers D/A.  We still had a WAP team in Washington hooking up those brand new analog data connections.  (I digress)
ilserbatoio
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ilserbatoio,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/16/2012 | 4:27:21 AM
re: Wireless Carrier Rankings: AT&T Vs. Verizon
I have worked in the cellular world for three years now. I have had LTE devices since the very first US device launched. The HTC Thunderbolt. If I have to read one more article that compares ATT and Verizon's 4G LTE networks by someone that clearly doesn't know how to take all of the factors into account. ATT has FAR less devices on its network that are running 4G LTE. Verizon's network is considerably more congested that ATT's. I have both carriers because I was an employee for ATT, and now work for Verizon. Verizon is a far superior company.
qwizwizard
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qwizwizard,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/29/2012 | 4:28:09 PM
re: Wireless Carrier Rankings: AT&T Vs. Verizon
I am a FORMER Verizon customer for two reasons:
1)Verizon did NOT adequately provide good service in my geographic area (suburbs of Atlanta). Verizon acknowledged they had poor service in my area and told me to either a) BUY a booster ($199) to improve their service to my home, or b) to cancel my policy with no penalties because they knew they had no plans to improve the existing service in my area.

2) I was fed up with the rudeness and indifference exhibited by Verizon's customer service.

I am now with AT&T, have no problems with connectivity and their customer service is FAR BETTER than Verizon.

T-Mobile, Sprint? Pulll-eeeeez.
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