The January 2011 edition of Consumer Reports comes out with an extremely negative view of AT&T carrier performance, likely just in time for the release of the Verizon iPhone.  The Houston Chronicle cut out the carrier reviews and it is a painful one for AT&T.  AT&T failed miserably in each and every category, rating the worst in every area except texting in which it was second to worst.  That being said, only regional carrier US Cellular had any significant “Better” notations with most carriers ranking in the middle.

In response to the Consumer Reports survey, an AT&T spokesperson e-mailed the following statement:

We take this seriously and we continually look for new ways to improve the customer experience. The fact is wireless customers have choices and a record number of them chose AT&T in the third quarter, significantly more than our competitors. Hard data from independent drive tests confirms AT&T has the nation’s fastest mobile broadband network with our nearest competitor 20 percent slower on average nationwide and our largest competitor 60 percent slower on average nationwide.  And, our dropped call rate is within 1/10 of a percent – the equivalent of just one call in a thousand – of the industry leader.

Two things jump out at me:

1. The timing of this couldn’t be worse. Verizon is rumored to be launching the iPhone in January.

2. Chicken or the Egg?  Is AT&T’s network so bad because it is the sole supplier of the data-hungry iPhone?  Or the flip side: How insane is it that the iPhone has had the kind of success it has had only being available on the nation’s worst network.

Also: Consumer Reports, even though it can’t recommend the iPhone, rated it the best phone on AT&T’s network (tied with the Samsung Captivate).

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