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Consumer Reports: AT&T Worst US Carrier

December 8, 2010

Popular review magazine Consumer Reports on Tuesday named AT&T the worst US mobile service provider, even though its reader survey places Apple’s iPhone, which only uses AT&T service, in a tie for first place against three other smartphones.

The magazine’s annual survey of more than 58,000 subscribers ranked AT&T in last place for the second straight year, with this year’s score dropping significantly from last year.

“AT&T was the only carrier with scores that dropped significantly in our satisfaction survey,” Consumer Reports said in its ratings report. “AT&T is now positioned in last place overall in almost every market we rate.”

AT&T achieved a score of 60 out of a possible 100, and was 6 points lower than in 2009. Twenty-two points separated AT&T from top-ranked US Cellular.

The magazine said that AT&T placed last in all 23 metro markets it surveyed. AT&T did poorest in San Francisco, where it scored a measly 51 points, trailing Sprint by 23 points.

AT&T scored below 60 in several other markets as well, including Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles and New York.

While Verizon and T-Mobile each fell one point in this year’s survey, Sprint climbed six points. US Cellular, which serves 26 US states, mostly in the Midwest, took the top spot with 82 points.

While AT&T was in last place in the Consumer Reports survey, Apple iPhone tied for first place in the smartphone category with three Samsung models, all of which use Google’s Android mobile operating system.

The iPhone 4 came in at 76 points, which matched that of Samsung’s Captivate, Epic 4G and Vibrant, said Consumer Reports. Apple”Ëœs iPhone 3GS rated 74 points.

Motorola’s Droid 2 and Droid X, and HTC’s Droid Incredible, all scored 75 points.

Although the iPhone 4 was at the top of the reader survey, Consumer Reports did not list it among its recommended smartphone models, a practice it began last summer after buyers complained that holding the phone certain ways dropped calls or lowered signal strength.

Apple offered free cases to iPhone 4 owners as a solution to the “Antennagate” issue, as dubbed by CEO Steve Jobs. But after discontinuing the free distribution of cases in September, Consumer Reports said the move was “not acceptable” and continued to withhold recommendations.

When asked to comment on the carrier’s poor showing in the Consumer Reports survey, an AT&T spokeswoman said: “We take this seriously and we continually look for new ways to improve the customer experience.”

According to analyst predictions, the iPhone will soon be available on another carrier, most likely Verizon Wireless, in early 2011.

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