Who’s got the best cell phone service in the U.S.? Hands down, it’s Verizon, according to readers of Consumer Reports.
The publication just issued its annual update on mobile service and once again ranked Verizon at the top nationwide for overall service, scoring 75 points out of 100. Second place T-Mobile scored 70.
But just because both companies did better than the others doesn’t mean everyone is happy with service. According to its survey of 50,000 readers, Consumer Reports said that only 54 percent were “completely or very satisfied” with service.
While still a majority, those aren’t very good numbers for any consumer-oriented business.
“Despite ‘smarter phones,’ more flexible plans, and faster wireless networks, cell service continues to be among the lower-rated of all the services that Consumer Reports evaluates,” the organization concluded in its January 2010 issue.
For Orange County and Los Angeles area users, we’re getting similar treatment as the rest of the country. Unless you’re with AT&T. Los Angeles and Orange County readers rated AT&T at 60 points, the second lowest score AT&T received. The lowest score came from our siblings up north in San Francisco near the iPhone’s hometown, which rated AT&T an 59.
Nationwide, AT&T scored below average in every attribute (voice, customer support) except Web access and texting. Interestingly, such service issues didn’t seem to matter much to iPhone users. Consumer Reports said a “staggering 98 percent” of iPhone users would buy the phone again despite AT&T’s poor rating.
In our area, Verizon (at 75 points) was in the lead, followed by Sprint (69 points), T-Mobile (65 points) and AT&T (60 points). Click chart on right to enlarge and view ratings for the Los Angeles area.
Prepaid service, on the other hand, fared much better but only 3,257 readers used prepaid services. While the report cites Irvine’s Boost Mobile as attracting 1.5 million new customers during the first half of the year, Boost didn’t make it into the top-5 prepaid services. TracFone had the highest satisfaction score followed by prepaid options from T-Mobile, Virgin Mobile and Verizon.
Also missing: MetroPCS, an inexpensive prepaid service with lots of unlimited options. Consumer Reports said there was insufficient data to rank MetroPCS or another cheap service called Straight Talk, which is sold through Walmart. Straight Talk, it notes, uses the comprehensive Verizon network and it offers unlimited voice, message and Web for $45 per month.
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