Verizon has once again taken the top spot in Consumer Reports' annual ranking of the nation's four largest cellphone carriers, holding onto the title for the second consecutive year, while putting some serious distance between its largest competitor, AT&T.
Big Red was praised for its voice and data, knowledgeable staff and swiftness in resolving issues in the survey, which questioned 63,253 cellphone subscribers. In comparison, Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T received "middling to low marks" in the same categories, with Ma Bell performing the worst in terms of voice and text quality.
Yet, there was some hope for AT&T, as the company's 4G LTE network garnered fewer complaints than any other carrier's high-speed service. With most new smartphones running on a 4G connection, such results could prove beneficial to AT&T in next year's survey.
Despite Verizon's first-place ranking, none of the four largest national carriers had an overall satisfaction score above 72%, with all scores across the board lower than those in 2010. With some wireless customers spending more on their cellphone bills than on groceries, it's no surprise that annual subscribers expect seamless service in return. And when they don't get what they want, they look elsewhere, evident in the growing popularity of no-contract plans, according to the survey.
Consumer Reports highlights several providers that offer monthly billing without a contractual requirement, including Consumer Cellular, which uses AT&T's network. The survey found that switching to a prepaid plan can save consumers more than $20 a month, helping them compensate for the higher off-contract cost of most handsets.
With a greater choice of smartphones available on prepaid services, this market is likely to grow even more, as more consumers look for cheaper alternatives.
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