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The votes are in: Which mobile data provider is best?

February 3, 2014 06:30 AM ET

Mouse over each pie slice to see its value.
Source: Computerworld mobile data services survey, 2013
Base: 820 respondents

As for pricing, the results are divided into two groups: those who reported monthly costs for their data plan only, and those who said they use a voice + data bundle.

In the data-only group, slightly more than half -- 51% -- pay $40 or less for their monthly data service, 24% pay between $41 and $60, 11% pay between $61 and $80, 6% pay between $81 and $100, 7% pay between $101 and $150, and just 1% pay between $151 and $200 for data only.

In the voice + data bundle group, 18% pay less than $40 per month, 20% pay from $41 to $60, 15% pay from $61 to $80, $13% pay from $81 to $100, 16% pay from $101 to $150, and 9% pay from $151 to $200. At the top end of the spectrum, 9% spend more than $200 per month for a voice + data bundle.

Why people chose their mobile providers

We also asked participants on what basis they chose their carriers: price, coverage, plan options, the availability of a specific phone, or "other." We asked them to rank how important each factor was, with 1 being the most important and 5 being the least important.

Did you choose your carrier based on...
Percentage of respondents who ranked each reason 1 or 2, where 1 is most important and 5 least important
Coverage: 71%
Price: 50%
Plan options: 38%
Specific phone: 28%
Other: 16%
Source: Computerworld mobile data service survey, 2013
Base: 820 respondents

The results are clear: Network coverage was the most important factor overall, with 71% of people ranking it at either a 1 or a 2. Next was price, with 50% ranking it a 1 or 2.

Having a variety of plan options wasn't of overwhelming importance to people when they decided what carrier to choose -- only 38% gave it a 1 or a 2. The availability of a specific phone was least important overall, with only 28% rating it as a 1 or 2.

Finally, 16% of respondents chose "other" as the primary or secondary factor in their carrier decision. Common reasons they wrote in included data speed, customer service, the reputation of the provider, the fact that family members use that provider, and loyalty to the provider. Others said they use their provider because they're on a company plan or because they receive an employee discount with that provider.

We'll delve more into why people chose each of the specific carriers later in the story.

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