Verizon beats AT&T for iPhone 4 calls

By Jonny Evans

The latest data shows iPhone 4 owners on Verizon and AT&T are all pretty much as happy on either network, but confirms AT&T's network woes continue, a ChangeWave Research survey shows.

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The latest survey shows that overall satisfaction ratings among customers on both networks are very similar: 82 percent of Verizon iPhone 4 owners say they're 'Very Satisified' compared to 80 percent of AT&T iPhone 4 owners, who feel the same.

Verizon v. AT&T

If you're in the market for an iPhone, ChangeWave has revealed figures which indicate Verizon to offer better call quality than AT&T, citing data on dropped call rates the research firm has been gathering for the past few years.

Verizon customers report on average only 1.4 percent of calls dropped over the past 90-days, followed by T-Mobile (2.3 percent), Sprint/Nextel (2.7 percent) and AT&T with a rather disappointing 4.6 percent call drop figure -- the worst record in the US.

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These comparisons continue for the iPhone 4. Verizon iPhones drop less often -- 1.8 percent in contrast to 4.8 percent on an AT&T iPhone 4, the company claims.

Verizon has shifted over a million iPhone 4's so far, and seems set to achieve strong future sales: ChangeWave claims 46 percent of those who intend purchasing an iPhone 4 will choose Verizon in preference to AT&T.

As the deployment climbs, Verizon may face challenges maintaining call quality, the researchers suggest, saying, "It remains to be seen how well the Verizon network performs as the number of Verizon iPhone 4 owners ramps up and inevitably puts more pressure on their system.

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Churning times

Previously, ChangeWave has predicted as many as 10 percent of US mobile users will change their wireless service provider following introduction of the CDMA Verizon iPhone, the majority of these defections coming from T-Mobile and AT&T.

AT&Ts continues to suffer a high churn rate on account of user perception that it offers a poor reception, limited coverage and an unacceptable level of dropped calls.

AT&T has countered that it continues to make big investments in its network, but these investments don't seem to have borne sufficient fruit yet, at least not according to ChangeWave data. Current Apple iPhone owners are the most likely group of all to switch.

Recent comScore data confirmed Android-powered phones of multiple capabilities from competing manufacturers now lead the US smartphone market, but confirmed Apple's iPhone maintains a sizable bloc within this. Apple saw the "strongest gain" thanks to the release of the Verizon iPhone , which was the "most acquired handset in the month of February", that report said.

comScore's new numbers place Apple at 25.2 percent market share behind RIM with 28.9  percent. However, RIM also had 4.6  percent  decrease from November 2010, while Apple had a 0.2  percent  increase.

For many US customers, however, AT&T remains the only viable iPhone carrier choice. This is because the CDMA iPhone offered by Verizon isn't compatible with mobile networks in some key European and other global markets, making it useless for business travelers.

This seems set to change later this year when Apple is expected to introduce iPhone 5. This will potentially be a 'world phone', compatible with both CDMA and GSM-based networks.

But for the present at least, the latest ChangeWave data confirms AT&T is the carrier of choice for dropped calls. Hopefully this will improve following AT&T's T-Mobile merger. Hopefully...

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Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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