Survey: Verizon iPhones Drop Fewer Calls than AT&T

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iPhone owners on Verizon’s networks experience far fewer dropped calls than AT&T owners — some 37.5% as many — according to a survey conducted by Changewave Research. The firm reported Tuesday that Verizon iPhone owners dropped 1.8% of their phone calls, compared to 4.8% for AT&T owners.

Changewave Chart

Note that the survey period covered 90 days, but that the device went on sale for Verizon on February 10th of this year, just 55 days ago. Indeed, Changewave noted Verizon’s rollout of the iPhone is still in the early stages, saying, “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.”

AT&T’s record of users dealing with lots of dropped calls is closely tied to the demands the iPhone has placed on Ma Bell’s network, as iPhone owners consumer more data than users of other smartphones. By definition, this is something that Verizon didn’t have to deal with until Big Red got the device this year.

For instance, in the chart below, you can see Verizon’s clearly superior performance in dropped calls compared to AT&T going back to September of 2008. These numbers are based on all cell phones, not just iPhones or smartphones. While AT&T has finally begun showing improvement in recent months, Verizon has also been improving.

Changewave Chart

Another thing you might have noticed from the two charts above is that iPhone owners have more dropped calls than cell phone users as a whole. Verizon’s overall dropped call rate is 1.4%, but iPhone users reported 1.8% of their calls were dropped. On AT&T, overall cell phones dropped 4.6% of their calls, compared to 4.8% for iPhones.

That difference is small, but there clearly is a difference. Users don’t seem to care much, however, as user satisfaction for iPhone owners is very, very high. In the chart below you’ll see that 98% iPhone owners on both networks are either “Somewhat Satisfied” or “Very Satisfied,” numbers that most companies can only dream of getting. More importantly, most of that 98% on both networks is in the “Very Satisfied” category.

Changewave Chart

In the meanwhile, Verizon has long led the industry in dropped call performance, but the question is how well will the company’s network stand up to the data usage that comes with a large number of iPhones. We might find out if another aspect of Changewave’s survey is borne out: During March, the company found that 48% if respondents planning on buying an iPhone were planning on going with Verizon, compared to just 27% planning on going with AT&T.

Changewave Chart


Tom Schmidt

This is true for most CDMA phones with a GSM twin. CDMA has a more robust antenna setup.  For example, GSM iPhone has 1 cell antenna & CDMA iPhone has 2.

Ross Edwards

CDMA has a more robust antenna setup.

Correct.  GSM is preferable for a number of reasons (for the time being, pending advancing technology) but in this respect, CDMA is the superior.

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