Consumer Reports Readers Rate AT&T Worst Network

Consumer Reports magazine issues its annual survey on wireless carriers and their cellular networks Tuesday, December 7th, and to hype the issue, the company announced today that Apple’s U.S. iPhone partner, AT&T, was rated as the worst network by its readers. Some 58,000 subscribers took part in the survey, which found Ma Bell to be the only carrier that saw a “significant” drop in overall satisfaction.

The magazine said that more than half of the respondents who took place in the survey who used AT&T had iPhones, spanning the product line from iPhone to iPhone 4.

In the announcement, which focused heavily on the iPhone and AT&T (a surefire attention grabber), Consumer Reports said that iPhone owners “much less satisfied with their carrier and rated data service (Web and e-mail) than owners of smart phones on other carriers that, like the iPhone, have a host of apps to encourage heavy data use.”

To that end, Paul Reynolds, Electronics Editor for Consumer Reports, commented on the long-running rumor that Apple would be bringing the iPhone to Verizon, the largest carrier in the U.S., saying, “Our survey suggests that an iPhone from Verizon Wireless, which is rumored, could indeed be good news for iPhone fans,”

Speaking of Verizon, the same survey found that a regional carrier in the Midwest, U.S. Cellular, beat out Verizon this year as the top-rated carrier. Sprint has also pulled up close to Big Red, and the magazine noted that Verizon has usually been “the clear top provider” in most surveys since 2003.

In other words, Verizon is being surpassed in customer satisfaction even before the iPhone comes to eat up all that bandwidth.

Consumer Reports has been very critical of iPhone 4 due to the antennae issues that made headlines shortly after the device was released. The magazine said that a bumper case solved the problems it found during testing, and criticized Apple for ending a free bumper program that was put in place initially to satisfy customers who were upset about the issue.