IPhones on AT&T’s network drop calls more than twice as often as on Verizon, according to the survey conducted by research firm ChangeWave. People don’t blame their phones — customer satisfaction with the Apple smartphone is almost identical between the two carriers.
But the word on dropped calls must be getting around, because among people who plan to buy the iPhone 4, 46 percent intend to go with Verizon, while just 27 percent look to AT&T. The remainder were undecided.
It’s grim news for AT&T, because now that the two networks offer the same Apple line-up — iPhones and iPads — along with full ranks of Android and BlackBerry devices, the two carriers must compete on less tangible factors like network quality and customer service.
At the moment, that doesn’t work to AT&T’s advantage.
Along with the ChangeWave data dinging its network, Dallas, Texas-based AT&T placed last in last year’s Consumer Reports analysis for customer satisfaction in most cities and categories.
If AT&T is to be believed, its proposed merger with T-Mobile could help turn things around with extra spectrum and coverage to improve service quality. That probably won’t happen for a while — the controversial acquisition needs approval from the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice, and faces inquires from a number of state attorneys general and strong opposition from competitors like Sprint.
In the meantime, the company is likely doing its best to ramp up service levels. The ChangeWave data did show an improvement from September to December of 2010 — but results from then til now were essentially unchanged.
In February, a teardown report revealed that Verizon’s iPhone features a redesigned antenna that overcomes the “death grip” issue that plagued AT&T’s model.