AT&T customers claim most dropped calls, least satisfaction

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Despite billions of dollars invested in its network in the last year, a new survey has found that AT&T customers report the most dropped calls of any U.S. carrier, and those users are also the least satisfied with their service. (Update: AT&T has responded to the survey findings, as noted below).



ChangeWave Research this week released data from a March survey of 4,040 smartphone subscribers. The results found that AT&T customers reported an average estimate of 4.5 percent of calls were dropped in the last three months. That was the worst of the four major U.S. carriers, and three times worse than rival Verizon, which saw an average call drop estimate of 1.5 percent. AT&T is the exclusive carrier of Apple's iPhone in the U.S.



"AT&T was clearly the worst in the March survey, tacking on yet another increase over the latest ChangeWave research survey," the study concluded. "Furthermore, a closer look at the trends show an increasing number of dropped calls among AT&T customers surveyed, and a steadily decreasing number of dropped calls for Verizon customers."



The two companies were much closer in a poll conducted in Sept. 2008, when 3.6 percent of AT&T calls were reported dropped, compared to 2.7 percent of Verizon calls.



Unsurprisingly, reports of dropped calls correspond strongly with customer satisfaction with their service. While just 23 percent of polled AT&T customers said they are "very satisfied" with their provider, ChangeWave found that 49 percent of Verizon customers considered themselves "very satisfied."







The survey contrasts a study released in February, which found that AT&T had undergone a "drastic makeover" over the span of eight months, improving its 3G network speed by 84 percent. That test, conducted in 13 cities across the country, found that AT&T's network was 94 percent reliable -- the best among its competitors.







In the summer of 2009, the launch of the iPhone 3GS placed a significant strain on AT&T's network, particularly in large cities such as New York and San Francisco. The issue was so serious that the company admitted its shortcomings and vowed to make improvements and do better. The company made significant investments to improve its reception in major metropolitan areas, with billions of dollars in investments. But public perception of the company has continued to struggle, and AT&T has attempted to overcome it with a new ad campaign that has rebranded the wireless carrier with the slogan "Rethink Possible."







While AT&T has made efforts to improve its network, Apple has also reportedly tweaked the iPhone to lessen its strain on 3G data networks. The improvements came about from meetings between Apple's designers and AT&T executives.



Apple's exclusive contract with AT&T for the iPhone is expected to expire this summer. But talk of the handset becoming available on other carriers cooled earlier this year, when Apple executives defended AT&T, and the iPad was announced as compatible only with AT&T's 3G network in the U.S.



But in March, The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple is currently working on a CDMA-capable iPhone that could run on the Verizon network. Such a device would not likely arrive this summer, when the next-generation iPhone is expected to go on sale, as the Journal reported that manufacturing of the CDMA model is not expected to begin until September.



AT&T responds to satisfaction report



AT&T has issued an official response to the survey, saying, "the opinions compiled in this survey are dramatically at odds with actual quantitative results derived from millions of calls made during extensive drive-testing of the AT&T mobile broadband network by a highly respected outside firm.



"Those results, from GWS, show that, on a national basis, AT&T is within just two-tenths of a percent of the industry leader in wireless call retainability. That's a difference of just two calls in a thousand, a virtual dead-heat.



"In fact, the statistically valid drive test shows the AT&T network continues to deliver the nation's fastest 3G network and near best-in-class call retainability nationwide. AT&T's network dropped only 1.44 percent of calls nationwide, within two-tenths of 1 percent of the industry leader and a difference of less than two calls out of 1,000."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 102
    msanttimsantti Posts: 1,377member
    Hey Apple!



    How about reading this now?!?



    Good!!!



    Or....



    Can you read me now?!?



    NO!!!!!
  • Reply 2 of 102
    spotonspoton Posts: 645member
    Apple should create a CDMA phone and others too, their brand and their data consumption is too large now to be tied to one carrier any longer. Plus it would invite competition and bring down prices.



    Who the fsck cares it´s not going to ¨the future¨, phones only last about 2 to 3 years anyway or even less.



    Right now in my area Metro PCS has a unlimited plan for $45 a month and T-Mobile has a unlimited for $60.



    AT&T is $70, Version is $90 and Sprint is $100
  • Reply 3 of 102
    t0mat0t0mat0 Posts: 58member
    Using an average for this kind of data is non-sensical.



    An iPhone user on AT&T doesn't meet an average - they meet the conditions for that city, that block, that neighborhood.

    IT's very likely that the call drop levels for SF, NY are much higher than figures indicate, but all the other areas tested bring the average down (though it's still higher than the others).
  • Reply 4 of 102
    kiweekiwee Posts: 102member
    In Sweden, we have a suburb network. We even have a fully functioning LTE network up and running.

    In my experience, the iPhone gets worse service then lets say a Sony Ericsson..



    I think it's the metal in the phone.

    Probably the reason why they are switching to glass/plastic on the back.
  • Reply 5 of 102
    jupiteronejupiterone Posts: 1,564member
    Service throughout south Florida is great and I never have dropped calls. However, I was just in Las Vegas last weekend and made a few calls and every single one was dropped mid-call or would not connect. Eventually I had to fall back on text messages just to carry on a conversation. Data was fine though.
  • Reply 6 of 102
    cherrypopcherrypop Posts: 86member
    I agree and disagree.



    Subjectively, I've never used a more unreliable network than AT&T. My wife and I chat daily, via two iPhones (2G and 3GS), and we drop three or four times a given conversation. It's a running joke and HUGE frustration both.



    So, not many will remember AT$T's mMode, which preceded the iPhone by something like five years, but they made the same claims about it: "We're investing and building out the network, stick with us as we're getting better all the time." Bull cuss then, bull cuss now.



    AT$T is an underachiever. Period. If you don't believe me, just take a look at their stock price. It has barely budged since they announced iPhone exclusivity. Pathetic: Apple has ridden the iPhone to become the largest handset maker in the States, and third world wide. AT$T has managed to produce nothing but ... excuses.



    When Apple announces a new iPhone carrier partner, we're gone.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by t0mat0 View Post


    Using an average for this kind of data is non-sensical.



    An iPhone user on AT&T doesn't meet an average - they meet the conditions for that city, that block, that neighborhood.

    IT's very likely that the call drop levels for SF, NY are much higher than figures indicate, but all the other areas tested bring the average down (though it's still higher than the others).



  • Reply 7 of 102
    I admit my iPhone cell reception is mediocre in my area. I previously had Verizon which never really had any problems around here. Talking with a few friends that still use Verizon, it still seems to be the case.



    When there is a college football game in town, my iPhone is actually unable to use 3G - I assume that it is just getting hammered by all the other thousands of iPhones and the network is at capacity. But who knows? Switching to use the Edge network in these senarios seems like a good work-around...
  • Reply 8 of 102
    bushman4bushman4 Posts: 799member
    Hard to believe AT&T has spent Billions of dollars and the service has gotten worse. Yes we know that the number of users has increased dramatically in the last year, but why hasn't AT&T worked to improve their service???? This is 2010, SHAME ON AT&T !!!! They'll be crying when they lose the EXCLUSIVITY of the IPHONE.

    On the other side APPLES IPHONE needs tweaking also, which supposedly has been done on their next model. This remains to be seen and personally I don't believe it.



    Many IPHONE users Don't even use their IPHONE as a phone. They strictly use it for internet purposes and Texting and carry another phone around with them. So why is the phone service so bad??? The problem is lack of DEFLECTERS and Towers in the big cities.



    APPLE, PLEASE LISTEN.
  • Reply 9 of 102
    jahadeemjahadeem Posts: 9member
    Who did they ask to get this information?



    Do the people they asked understand when a dropped call is because of their end and not the other end of the phone call?





    Most of the dropped calls I've gotten on my iPhone 3G seem to come down as follows:



    All dropped calls where I was on an iPhone through AT&T and the other side was on the Verizon Network: Almost completely the fault of the Verizon Network.



    All dropped calls where I was on an iPhone through AT&T and the other side was on the Sprint Network: About 50% AT&T and 50% Sprint drops.
  • Reply 10 of 102
    ghostface147ghostface147 Posts: 1,629member
    In Houston, this is the general rule of thumb on dropped calls in my experience. If a call drops and the other end doesn't hear a busy signal, they dropped it. If they get a busy signal, I dropped it. More often than not, it's them who dropped it.
  • Reply 11 of 102
    applezillaapplezilla Posts: 941member
    I mostly get a good, fast connection here in Atlanta, but once every couple of weeks or so I get a dropped call. It usually happens in the afternoon and I get the feeling that it has something to do with the uptick in cell usage that happens towards the end of the work day.
  • Reply 12 of 102
    cu10cu10 Posts: 294member
    Great charts, Verizon looks to have the best network.



    FiOS is an excellent product too, so Verizon has it good wireless and wired.
  • Reply 13 of 102
    ghostface147ghostface147 Posts: 1,629member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by BUSHMAN4 View Post


    Hard to believe AT&T has spent Billions of dollars and the service has gotten worse. Yes we know that the number of users has increased dramatically in the last year, but why hasn't AT&T worked to improve their service???? This is 2010, SHAME ON AT&T !!!! They'll be crying when they lose the EXCLUSIVITY of the IPHONE.

    On the other side APPLES IPHONE needs tweaking also, which supposedly has been done on their next model. This remains to be seen and personally I don't believe it.



    Many IPHONE users Don't even use their IPHONE as a phone. They strictly use it for internet purposes and Texting and carry another phone around with them. So why is the phone service so bad??? The problem is lack of DEFLECTERS and Towers in the big cities.



    APPLE, PLEASE LISTEN.





    So I guess the not in my backyard people who want better reception but no towers aren't to blame for slowing down the process. I also guess the city governments who take forever to approve a tower due to zoning issues, slow process or whatever aren't to blame either. Some cities have tower approvals behind a year or so. I wouldn't mind a cell tower in my backyard.
  • Reply 14 of 102
    buckdutterbuckdutter Posts: 51member
    While the trend is interesting, I take the results with a grain of salt. There are so many variables that can go into influencing the results...



    For example...



    Where were the users located?

    What type of phone were they using?

    What software version were they running on their phone?

    Can they confirm the call drop was AT&T and not the other party?

    History of device issues?



    This is pseudoscience at best, and is going on perception alone. If I am on AT&T talking to someone on Verizon and the call drops and both of us assume it was AT&T and not Verizon (which honestly is a likely situation given the flack AT&T has been taking), and there is no actual confirmation as to who actually dropped the call, you can't use that as hard data.



    Some of the issues I sincerely believe are iPhone related. I use a Blackberry Bold 9700 for work through AT&T, and an iPhone for personal use. My Bold has literally never dropped a call, where as my iPhone can have it's moments where it struggles...which are almost always fixed with a hard reset. I personally have noticed a great improvement over the last year in the Minneapolis area. I had Verizon for 3 years before this and I honestly cannot reallydifferentiate between the two in this area, but granted that is a different story in some parts of the country. Just an observation.



    P.S. To the person who used AT&T's stock to show they were an 'underachiever'...I know this can be a hard concept to understand, but investors don't rush the gates to buy your stock when you take on an exclusive device that is costing you $400 in subsidy alone per device sold. They also don't flock to you when you openly say that it will take 18-24 months per iPhone sold to turn a profit...they go to the company that is making the money up front (Apple in case you have not put that together yet).
  • Reply 15 of 102
    ktappektappe Posts: 759member
    I have problems with both AT&T voice and data.



    With regards to dropped calls, sometimes it just fails immediately--before the other end even rings (or had a chance to). That proves to me it's an AT&T problem. Other times I'll be on a call and 3 minutes in AT&T butts in saying "The caller you are trying to reach is unavailable" and then terminates what had been a good call. (And this was to a landline, so again I know it's AT&T's problem.)



    Data-wise, I see good throughput rates until the hours of 9-5, when they drop to dial-up modem speeds. It's quite observable that as soon as everyone leaves town at 5PM I can suddenly get my iPhone to connect to things again. AT&T's tower in Wilmington (DE) is simply overloaded, and has been for most of the time I've had my iPhone.



    I keep reporting these problems using AT&T's "Mark The Spot" app, in the desperate hopes someone on the other end cares about the problem reports.
  • Reply 16 of 102
    buckdutterbuckdutter Posts: 51member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ghostface147 View Post


    So I guess the not in my backyard people who want better reception but no towers aren't to blame for slowing down the process. I also guess the city governments who take forever to approve a tower due to zoning issues, slow process or whatever aren't to blame either. Some cities have tower approvals behind a year or so. I wouldn't mind a cell tower in my backyard.



    Actually this is VERY true. I used to live in a neighborhood that got horrible reception with every carrier, but the city council blocked construction of a tower that AT&T and Verizon were going to share repeatedly, and to my knowledge the actual tower is up, but no cell equipment has been put up as it is still being blocked. Ironic that the same people going to city council meetings to protest the construction are many of the same people who have voiced distaste with the poor service options due to the coverage issue....you literally cannot win with people.



    My brother lives a block from an AT&T tower that was up on a water tower. The city had them take the equipment down so they could repaint it. AT&T said the process should take two weeks (apparently that is what they were told). It has been 8 months, the tower has not been painted, and AT&T has even parked a truck with a cell tower sticking out of it next to the water tower. Still, doesnt seem to cut it really service wise.



    These are just minor instances, but people don't often realize how much can go into providing coverage for a certain area - I know I didn't before seeing it first hand.
  • Reply 17 of 102
    erybovicerybovic Posts: 37member
    What is everyone's signal strength from Field Test Mode? Mine is -90 to -113 most of the time here in NJ with my 3g on. When 3g is off, I do not have this issue.



    To show your Field Test signal strength on your Iphone desktop on the top left corner, do the following:



    Call: *3001#12345#*



    The Field Test screen appears. The top left corner shows signal strength. Hold sleep wake until "slide to power off" shows up. Let go of sleep wake and then hold down the home button. You will now show the actual signal strength instead of bars. You can switch back and forth, but you at least now you now why you may have a dropped call. -50 is perfect signal strength and -113 is no coverage, terrible signal strength. Signal stength is misleading with the Bars because I show 2-4 bars even when my signal strength is over -100.



    See image below. Field Test Signal Strength at top right corner. -113 is what I am used to. Lousy Service



  • Reply 18 of 102
    erybovicerybovic Posts: 37member
    Does anyone know of a way to not pay the cancellation fee for a cell contract? I read from one of the forums in the WSJ that you can write a complaint to the FCC and then somehow be freed from your contract? Anyone have any magic way that they would like to share?
  • Reply 19 of 102
    mazda 3smazda 3s Posts: 1,566member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by t0mat0 View Post


    Using an average for this kind of data is non-sensical.



    An iPhone user on AT&T doesn't meet an average - they meet the conditions for that city, that block, that neighborhood.

    IT's very likely that the call drop levels for SF, NY are much higher than figures indicate, but all the other areas tested bring the average down (though it's still higher than the others).



    What more evidence do you need? AT&T's network woes -- especially with the iPhone -- have been well documented over the years.
  • Reply 20 of 102
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,863member
    Good grief. Just the latest in a string of crummy pearls for at 'n' t.



    But my real question is WTH is killing AAPL? Is anyone going to try to convince me the Greece crisis has anything to do with Apple's stock, other than the market has been artificially pumped up and the effect is now drying up?
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