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AT&T Fares Poorly in 'Consumer Reports' Ratings

Popular ratings and reviews magazine Consumer Reports today announced the release of its latest report on cellular service providers in the United States, unsurprisingly demonstrating wide customer dissatisfaction with AT&T, the exclusive carrier for Apple's iPhone.

Of all the carriers rated, AT&T was the only one to drop significantly in overall satisfaction.

Over half of the survey respondents who used AT&T as a carrier owned some version of the iPhone, the Apple smart phone that is exclusive to AT&T, at least for now. Consumer Reports data, reflecting all versions of the phone, found that iPhone owners were much less satisfied with their carrier and rated data service (Web and e-mail) lower than owners of smart phones on other carriers that, like the iPhone, have a host of apps to encourage heavy data use.

The Houston Chronicle has published the key ratings chart for contract cellular providers at the national level, showing AT&T ranking dead last with the magazine's lowest "worse" rating in eight of nine areas and only one step above the lowest for the company's texting service.

In the 2009 survey, AT&T was at the bottom of the list locally, but came in next-to-last nationally. This time, it brings up the rear nationwide, and in every city in which Consumer Reports surveyed its readership. The magazine even calls out AT&T's shortcomings on its cover with a snarky blurb:

Plus
Best & worst providers
(Sorry, AT&T)

In contrast, Verizon Wireless, the country's largest carrier and widely rumored to be gaining iPhone distribution rights early next year, placed second among the five carriers included in the survey and garnered middle-of-the-road ratings in eight areas and even rated one step higher for voice service. Regional carrier U.S. Cellular topped the charts in the survey.

Among handsets, the iPhone 4 tied with the Samsung Captivate as the highest-rated handset on AT&T's network. Consumer Reports has notably refused to recommend the iPhone 4 due to antenna issues that received considerable publicity in the weeks after the device's launch.

Related roundups: iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6