Holiday tradition: AT&T again ranks last among wireless carriers in Consumer Reports survey

For the third year in a row, AT&T is the lowest-rated wireless carrier in annual CR survey

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It's become an annual December tradition, like the lighting of the national Christmas tree and the late-season collapse of the New York Giants.

For the third year in a row, AT&T ranks dead last among U.S. national cell-phone service providers.

As happened last year, a smaller provider -- in this case, Consumer Cellular -- was the highest-rated wireless carrier. (In 2010 it was U.S. Cellular.) Based in Portland, Ore., Consumer Cellular operates in all 50 states and specifically targets the over-50 age demographic through a partnership with the AARP.

Consumer Cellular also uses AT&T's network, which is slightly ironic given AT&T's ongoing issues with customer satisfaction. This year was no different, as AT&T ranked behind No. 1 Verizon and close runner-up Sprint in Consumer Reports' survey of 66,000 subscribers, with Verizon earning high marks for texting and data services, as well as staff knowledge.

In a blog post announcing the survey results, Consumer Reports wrote, "T-Mobile was below Verizon and Sprint but continued to rate significantly better than the higher-priced AT&T, which recently withdrew its application to the FCC to merge with its better rival."

I look forward to AT&T's petulant statement accusing Consumer Reports of bias for using loaded phrases such as "higher-priced" and "better rival." Those kinds of arbitrary cheap shots clearly indicate that Consumer Reports is "predisposed" toward an unfair and inaccurate portrayal of AT&T!

By the way, the Consumer Reports blog post says this is the second consecutive year AT&T has finished at the bottom of its wireless carrier survey. But it's actually the third. Which officially makes it a trend.

The full report is available in the January print edition of the magazine and also can be viewed by subscribers at consumerreports.org.

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