AT&T Slapped Again With Lowest Rating by Users

AT&T (NYSE:T) is once again the worst-rated mobile phone carrier in the US, according to an annual survey from influential ratings publication Consumer Reports.

According to the poll of 58,000 Consumer Reports readers, AT&T was the only carrier to drop significantly in overall satisfaction, with iPhone users “much less satisfied” with their carrier and data service compared with smart phones owners from other carriers.

The news is grim for AT&T, which has been slapped with the dismal rating for two consecutive years. The mobile company upped its wireless spending by $2 billion this year in an effort to correct its weaknesses, an initiative that did little to juice its rating.

Even worse, AT&T now faces potential competition from rival Verizon (NYSE:VZ) for the iPhone, which has been sold exclusively through AT&T since introduced by Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) three years ago.

“Our survey suggests that an iPhone from Verizon Wireless, which is rumored, could indeed be good news for iPhone fans,” Paul Reynolds, electronics editor for Consumer Reports, said in the publication’s electronic blog.

AT&T told the Wall Street Journal that it takes the issue seriously and continually searches for new ways to improve the customer experience. Despite poor ratings, the carrier continues to draw in new customers and boasts that its dropped-call rate is only marginally behind the best in the industry.

The report also shows that US Cellular, a smaller carrier serving 26 states in the South and Midwest, beat out giant Verizon as the top-rated provider for contract service.

Meanwhile, Sprint, a part of the Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE:S), came in even with Verizon in terms of customer satisfaction, a sign efforts to improve its carrier service are paying off, particularly since Verizon has topped the list almost every year since 2003.

Sprint was even able to surpass Verizon in some aspects of customer service, the survey said.