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Two New Wireless Carrier Reports on Quality and Experience Put Verizon at the Top, T-Mobile at the Bottom

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Both Rootmetrics and JD Power released separate reports this week that focus on the consumer experience and network quality from U.S. wireless carriers. The reports peg Verizon as the clear winner in both situations, while Sprint and T-Mobile struggled to even remain in the conversation. AT&T faired well, but still remains in the distance from Verizon in overall rankings, especially in the reliability category. You may remember AT&T’s “we are the most reliable network now” campaign? According to these reports, that campaign should end now if it hasn’t already. 

The Rootmetrics report creates a score that reflects overall coverage and consumer experience. Verizon’s overall score ended up at 89.7 with AT&T closely behind at 86.2. Sprint and T-Mobile managed to pull in scores of 68.2 and 64.3, respectively. Quite the distance, right? As you can imagine, T-Mobile execs, including CEO John Legere, have already criticized the report, stating that these tests were done before they made all their end-of-year improvements.

Here are the individual scores for reliability, speed, data, calls, and texts from Rootmetrics:

Reliability Index rankings:
1 – Verizon (Reliability Score: 89.8)
2 – AT&T (Reliability Score: 84.9)
3 – Sprint (Reliability Score: 65.2)
4 – T-Mobile (Reliability Score: 57.1)

Speed Index rankings:
1 – AT&T (Speed Score: 88.7)
2 – Verizon (Speed Score: 88.5)
3 – T-Mobile (Speed Score: 74.3)
4 – Sprint (Speed Score: 65.8)

Data RootScore rankings:
1 – Verizon (RootScore: 87.3)
2 – AT&T (RootScore: 83.9)
3 – Sprint (RootScore: 51.2)
4 – T-Mobile (RootScore: 48.7)

Call RootScore rankings:
1 – Verizon (RootScore: 91.1)
2 – AT&T (RootScore: 86.6)
3 – Sprint (RootScore: 79.6)
4 – T-Mobile (RootScore: 74.1)

Text RootScore rankings:
1 – Verizon (RootScore: 94.7)
2 – AT&T (RootScore: 94.3)
3 – Sprint (RootScore: 92.8)
4 – T-Mobile (RootScore: 90.1)

In the JD Power report, scores were given by region, with Verizon topping the charts in all six regions (Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, North Central, Southwest and West). These tests focus on network quality as reported by over 25,000 wireless customers. These customers reported on things like slow download speeds, dropped calls, audio issues, web connection errors, and lost calls, to name a few. The data for this report was collected from July 2013 to December 2013, so you can imagine how T-Mobile feels about this as well.

Again, Verizon topped each region by what appears to be a wide margin. AT&T came in second in each, while Sprint and T-Mobile flip-flopped for third and fourth place in many.

We had a reader suggest that reports like these may be the reason that Verizon can still charge its high prices on data and other services. I’ll just say that’s it not only these reports, but the continued increase in new wireless customers that are reported in each of their quarterly earnings calls. Big Red isn’t slowing down, so they don’t need to result to the drastic changes that T-Mobile and AT&T have made over the last year.

Links:  Rootmetrics report [interactive map] | JD Power report
  • Chris

    the whole “this carrier gets 30 down, and the other carrier gets 20 down” is one of the stupidest arguments going around. Its the same in the Verizon/Comcast d*ck measuring wars with their broadband internet speeds.

  • And this sums up why I’m still with VZW despite all their BS. At the end of the day, what really matters is coverage and network performance.

  • moreeverything

    VZW is best all around. 2 smartphones 1 tablet and 14gb data with insurance on both lines I’m at 125

  • rob949

    I switched from Verizon to tmobile. I can’t notice a difference in speeds to be honest. In my opinion tmobile customer services is way better the Verizons. Reception is great where I’m from (O.C.California) I’ve successfully got my cousins from San Diego to switch over and they are impressed with not only speed but,reception. I would recommend them to anyone over Verizon.

  • Ryan5609

    For those of us who live and work in big/medium sized cities, just show me that data. Show me data in the city vs out of the city. In Indianapolis, T-Mobile’s service is awesome, once I go about 20 miles outside of suburbs, T-Mobile is no where near where Verizon was. But I don’t care about that data because 95% of time time I am in the city area.

  • markgbe

    i guess it all depends on where you live. Tmobile is the best IMO where i live and play.

    Verizon still has the most coverage but ehh…. i want my Nexus and low prices.

  • MvP77

    Verizon might have great service, but for me it doesn’t work where I work. Tmo, ATT, and Sprint all work, with LTE but Verizon is a no go.

    Speed and service is different everywhere. I have TMO, my girlfriend has Sprint. In North Kansas City my Speeds avg 25-30mbs. Hers is 7-8mbs on LTE. Even when I’m not on LTE I’m getting 10-15mbs on “4G”.

    The down side of course is that the one time a year I travel to Northern Michigan I don’t have service. The only provider that works up there is Verizon. I do have a verizon iPad though, so thanks to T-Mobile WiFi calling and tethering from my iPad, I have service everywhere I go with my iPad.

  • Ron

    This is a horrible report. There’s a data and a speed… what’s the difference? Where’s the details on what falls into each category, how the survey was given etc.. and this is all on the perception of 25,000 users (where were the users located? etc. There a lot of areas around here were you’ll have EITHER AT&T or Verizon, but not both (for example Petersburg, PA which has AT&T coverage but nearly no Verizon) or section of Raystown lake where you have Verizon but no AT&T). Obviously a situation like that would severely impact the users perception of the service as someone on a fringe coverage area is going to say “crap for reliability”.

    I don’t care who comes out on top or on the bottom.. frankly that doesn’t mean much to me as the service I have from the carrier I have in the area I use it has met my requirements (so a report like this really means nothing to me as it’s over such a vast area), BUT I dislike articles of reports/studies, etc that don’t fill in the blanks and elaborate on the details a bit more