AT&T's cell service officially stinks

The wireless provider scores dead last in a user survey.

By Kim Peterson Dec 7, 2010 1:29PM
Damaged cell phone © Nick Koudis / Getty ImagesConsumer Reports dealt AT&T (T) a severe blow this week, naming the company the worst cell phone service provider in the nation.

This may not be a surprise to anyone with an iPhone. And it comes at just the wrong time for AT&T, if reports are correct that Apple (AAPL) will let Verizon (VZ) have the iPhone next year.

The top-scoring cell provider in Consumer Reports' user survey was U.S. Cellular (USM). And all the other majors came in ahead of AT&T, including Verizon, Sprint (S) and T-Mobile, which is a division of Deutsche Telekom (DT).

AT&T investors weren't too upset by the news, however. The stock is up slightly today to $28.50, perhaps bolstered by executive comments that fourth-quarter wireless profit margins will be higher than in the third quarter.

AT&T got an additional knock from Consumer Reports: It was the only carrier whose overall satisfaction level fell this year, the Los Angeles Times reports. Everyone else saw an increase. Post continues after video:
In this case, Consumer Reports didn't actually conduct the rigorous independent testing it's known for. Instead, it surveyed customers of all the carriers in 10 categories, including customer service, data and voice services and staff knowledge. AT&T's score was 60, making it a pretty distant last. The second-to-last carrier, T-Mobile, scored a 69.

I hate to pile on, but there's one more uh-oh for AT&T going around this week. One news report says a Verizon iPhone may drop fewer calls than an AT&T iPhone. The Verizon phone will use separate channels for voice and Internet data, Wilson Rothman writes on MSNBC.

"Our survey suggests that an iPhone from Verizon Wireless, which is rumored, could indeed be good news for iPhone fans," the electronics editor from Consumer Reports said, according to the San Francisco Weekly. Ya think?

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Jan 13, 2011 12:34PM
That is really surprising to me. I have also had AT&T for the past 10 years and can say I have never had a problem. I have had several different phones including a motorola razr, blackberry and iphone. I currently have the iphone4 and have no complaints. I now know that after having dropped or damaged previous phones, that is only when I had any reception problems. I have had exceptional customer service, and their roadside assistance program has been a godsend! So having said that, I don't plan on ever changing service providers, and will continue to refer my friends and family.
Jan 13, 2011 8:52AM
I was with "Cingular" wireless - remember them? I stayed with AT&T when it bought the company.  I've had AT&T (family plan - 4 phones) for five+ years, and wouldn't consider changing.  We've had no problems with voice, data, or customer service.  We currently use an iPhone4, a WP7, a WP6 and a Blackberry.  Unfortunately for AT&T, I guess, no one has ever asked my opinion.
Jan 13, 2011 2:48AM

I find it funny that what appears like hoards of iPhone users complain about AT&T service, yet with the millions of iPhone users out there, the total numberof complainers is far outweighed by those who have had no problems at all.


I also have been with AT&T for 10 years and have a "Real" device, a Blackberry and have never had one dropped call or an issue with the carrier that wasn't resolved in a professional and prompt manner.


I wish Verizon luck, cause once 5 million+ iPhone data guzzlers hit their network, we will see just how great their so called 4G network really is.



Mar 21, 2011 4:35PM
We had continued problems with constant overcharges with Cingular wireless and AT&T. I think $1200.00 a month for a $64.00 dollar month plan was just a bit too much for 8 months. Also dropped calls were so frustrating that we couldn't have 1 call without at least 2 to 3 drops on a 1 minute call. You can't deal with this company. I was constantly being billed for charges I did not make. We will now be without a phone if we lose our T Mobile. This would include not only our cell phone but our landlines as well. It is so heartbreaking to those of lesser means to have to deal with a shark in the water than the beautiful goldfish in a pond. We have no where to turn for protection from this vicious and arrogant company that AT&T has become. And If you look at their record they have law suits in every city  they are in. And these law suits are being paid for by their customers.
Dec 7, 2010 9:00PM
Took a road trip in Sept to Minnesota and Wisconsin and UP Michigan.  3 of us in a car.  We all have phone service with ATT.  Often, none of us had ANY service and we could not use our phones.  Fortunately there were no emergencies.  ATT, you should do better. 
Mar 22, 2011 5:00PM
for all of you out there i have been with verizon for nineteen years and would never change carriers and i have hardley ever not hand service except when i am 90 miles from the nearest city in the sticks. and for the non belivers verizons network could handle 75+ million iphones on it without failure so stick it where the sun don't shine!!! have a nice day
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