Apple iPhone 4 owners, whether subscribers to AT&T or Verizon Wireless, love their smartphones, with more than 80 percent of owners on each network reporting they're very satisfied, according to studies. The Verizon iPhone 4 owners, however, are actually being provided with a better experience.
According to an April 5 report from ChangeWave, AT&T iPhone 4 owners suffer more dropped calls than their peers at Verizon.That may not be so surprising. AT&T customers, on average, have experienced more dropped calls than those at Verizon since ChangeWave first began measuring such things. In the firm's recent survey, which wrapped up March 28, AT&T's dropped call rate had improved, dipping from 4.7 percent in December to 4.6 percent in March. Verizon's, however, fell as well during that time, from 1.7 percent to 1.4 percent - the lowest level ever recorded in a ChangeWave survey, according to the firm.Still, the iPhone 4 users on both carriers are experiencing worse service than the carriers' averages, with AT&T subscribers reporting a 4.8 percent dropped call rate, compared to the 1.8 percent reported by Verizon subscribers.Though AT&T, it must be noted, is supporting far more of the data-devouring Apple handsets than its adversary."We note ... that Verizon is still in the early stages of its iPhone 4 offering to consumers," ChangeWave wrote in AT&T's defense. "It remains to be seen how well the Verizon network performs as the number of Verizon iPhone 4 owners ramps up and inevitably puts more pressure on their system."And a ramp-up is coming. Among consumers who said they planned to purchase an iPhone 4, 46 percent said they planned to use Verizon as their provider, while 27 percent said AT&T and another 27 percent were undecided.In the March survey, subscribers with Sprint, the nation's third-largest carrier, experienced a dropped-call rate of 2.7 percent, while T-Mobile subscribers reported an average 2.3 percent.On March 20, AT&T - which, following Verizon, is the nation's second-largest carrier -announced its intentions to buy T-Mobile from its parent company Deutsche Telekom for $39 billion. The purchase must be approved, however, by a number of federal regulating bodies in a process expected to take nearly a year to complete.Speaking with a USA Today reporter recently, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said the deal wasn't in response to the considerable criticism AT&T has received from iPhone users, complaining of excessive dropped calls. Instead, he said the deal would be "in anticipation of" where the wireless market is headed."In cities like New York, we put the two companies together, and we get a very quick lift in capacity of about 30 percent," Stephenson said. "That means fewer dropped calls, better service quality, and it give us a path to do something that neither one of us could do independently, and that is deploy fourth-generation mobile broadband to 95 percent of the U.S."Verizon has said in intends to expand its 4G LTE (long-term evolution) network across its full 3G footprint by 2013. And while AT&T - like T-Mobile - currently offers a limited 4G network based on HSPA+ technology, it plans to begin rolling out a 4G LTE network toward the middle of this year.Stephenson added, according to the March 4 report, "We're going to have to work with the FCC very aggressively to get new spectrum online fast. An industry constrained in capacity is an industry that cannot innovate at the same pace [as currently] and where prices cannot continue to come down at the same pace."