Verizon tops major carrier customer satisfaction, AT&T falters

A survey to be published in the January 2012 issue of Consumer Reports ranked the four major U.S. cellphone service providers based on overall customer satisfaction.

A survey to be published in the January 2012 issue of Consumer Reports ranked the four major U.S. cellphone service providers based on overall customer satisfaction.

Lesser-known regional networks were also analyzed, with Oregon-based Consumer Cellular earning recognition as the nation's top carrier, scoring high on both customer support and calling plan value.

Among the big four, Verizon ranked the highest, receiving exemplary grades for staff knowledge, texting and data speed quality. Sprint followed, while T-Mobile came in third.

"Our survey indicates that subscribers to prepaid and smaller standard-service providers are happiest overall with their cellphone service," said Paul Reynolds, electronics editor for Consumer Reports. "However, these carriers aren't for everyone. Some are only regional, and prepaid carriers tend to offer few or no smartphones."

As for AT&T, it continues its downward slide of reliability. It scored low marks in previous surveys as well, such as the American Customer Satisfaction Index and J.D. Power, which claimed its network to be "the least reliable in America," according to The Huffington Post. Bad publicity such as this might eventually hurt AT&T's customer satisfaction and loyalty.

According to the news source, AT&T responded to the report, claiming to have a 25 percent improvement in 3G dropped calls in 2011.