AT&T Named Worst Cell-Phone Service Provider

AT&T Inc. is the worst-rated cell-phone service provider, suffering a significant drop in ratings since last year, according to a new survey of readers of Consumer Reports, the influential product-review publication.

Verizon Wireless, the former top provider, was beaten by U.S. Cellular, a regional carrier in 26 states. The results are based on the opinions of more than 58-thousand subscribers, who provided feedback on their customer service and overall satisfaction.

Sprint continues to hold its own, scoring better than Verizon Wireless in several categories such as customer service, which had been one of the company's weaknesses in recent years. T-Mobile, coming up second-to-last, rated lower than both Verizon Wireless and Sprint in overall satisfaction, although by only a small margin.

Of the AT&T customers surveyed, over half owned iPhones. Survey results found that iPhone users are less satisfied than owners of other smart phones with their carrier. The iPhone is now exclusively carried by AT&T, but the company now faces competition for the iPhone from Verizon Wireless.

"Our survey suggests that an iPhone from Verizon Wireless, which is rumored, could indeed be good news for iPhone fans," said Paul Reynolds, electronics editor for Consumer Reports, in a press release. Many users, tweeting reaction to the survey results on Twitter, wrote, "Surprise, surprise."

AT&T responded in a statement, "We take this seriously, and we continually look for new ways to improve the customer experience."

Last December, iPhone users made headlines with Operation Chokehold, a plan to destroy the AT&T network. An e-mail that circulated within the Apple network read, "On Friday, December 18, at noon Pacific time, we will attempt to overwhelm the AT&T data network and bring it to its knees. The goal is to have every iPhone user (or as many as we can) turn on a data intensive app and run that app for one solid hour. Send the message to AT&T that we are sick of their substandard network and sick of their abusive comments. THe idea is we'll create a digital flash mob. We're calling it in Operation Chokehold. Join us and speak truth to power!"

Cell Phone Service: AT&T Last, Especially for iPhone Users; U.S. Cellular Best

Based on the Consumer Reports survey, AT&T's service has not gotten any better since the assualt. Perhaps it's time for another battle.

The full report can be found in the January 2011 issue of Consumer Reports, available online and in print.