A Consumer Reports survey indicates prepaid customers and those with smaller service providers are happier overall with service.
it comes to mobile phone carriers, smaller may be better, according to a
satisfaction survey of Consumer Reports' online subscribers. At the top of the
ratings for standard service providers are Consumer Cellular, a national
carrier that uses AT&T's network, and U.S. Cellular, which operates in just
over half the United States. Credo, which offers service to much of the country
on Sprint's network, also bested the major carriers.
America's second-largest carrier, again found itself at the bottom of the
ratings, according to survey results.
this year's annual Consumer Reports survey on cell phone service providers,
more than 66,000 ConsumerReports.org subscribers weighed in about their service
and customer support experiences with standard service (billed at month's end)
and prepaid providers.
the four major U.S. national cell phone standard service providers, Verizon and
Sprint were the better-rated carriers. Verizon had an edge over Sprint in
texting and in knowledgeable support staff, but Sprint rated better in value.
T-Mobile was below Verizon and Sprint but continued to rate "significantly
better" than the higher-priced carrier AT&T, which recently withdrew its
application to the Federal Communications Commission to merge with T-Mobile.
was rated one of the better carriers among prepaid cell phone service
providers, with Straight Talk, T-Mobile and Virgin Mobile. All of the top four
prepaid carriers received above average scores for value. Readers who prepaid
for their cell phone service were more satisfied overall than respondents with
survey indicates that prepaid customers and those with smaller standard service
providers are happier overall with their cell phone 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. A major carrier is still a leading option for many
report found that two-thirds of cell phones are bought at carrier stores, but
Consumer Reports has found that prices can be lower at warehouse stores and
mass merchandisers, suggesting consumers shouldn't automatically buy their
handsets at company stores, and recommended considering a low-priced carrier.
When Consumer Reports compared 100 plans to similar alternatives in 21 matchups
covering the full spectrum of plans, both prepaid and standard, Consumer
Cellular came out on top with the best deal in more than one out of three
cases. Savings usually ranged from $30 to $40 per month over pricier rivals
such as Verizon and AT&T, though users might find a smaller selection of
desirable smartphones with smaller carriers.
should avoid using their plan's allotment of data by tapping into the rising
number of WiFi networks that are available. Also, bypassing the carrier and
using third-party services for texting and voice calls can be a real
money-saver, according to Consumer Reports. Those who own 4G phones should set
them to connect only to 3G whenever it's adequate such as when texting or streaming
music. New apps such as Heywire and TigerText let users send text messages for
free over a data connection, which means users won't have to pay 10 cents per
text or $5 to $30 a month for limited-to-unlimited messaging plans.
Nathan Eddy is Associate Editor, Midmarket, at eWEEK.com. Before joining eWEEK.com, Nate was a writer with ChannelWeb and he served as an editor at FierceMarkets. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.