More surprising: regional and prepaid carriers topped Consumer Reports' customer satisfaction survey

For the second year in a row, AT&T has taken the last spot in Consumer Reports' annual wireless customer satisfaction survey.

While the repeat of last year's showing for America's second-largest wireless provider might not fall under the category of "surprising," the top billings for smaller carriers Consumer Cellular, U.S. Cellular, and Credo came a bit out of left field. Prepaid brands such as TracFone and Straight Talk also received higher scores than any of the Big Four.

"Our survey indicates that subscribers to prepaid and smaller standard-service providers are happiest overall with their cell-phone service," said Paul Reynolds, electronics editor for Consumer Reports. "However, these carriers aren’t for everyone. Some are only regional, and prepaid carriers tend to offer few or no smart phones."

Out of the four major carriers, Verizon topped the list yet again, with Sprint closely following. "T-Mobile was below Verizon and Sprint but continued to rate significantly better than the higher-priced AT&T," according to Consumer Reports.

More than 66,000 Consumer Reports online subscribers weighed in for this year's survey. 

And while AT&T's proposed takeover of T-Mobile is quickly sinking, an AT&T representative touted it as a potential improvement for customers. "As customer demand continues to skyrocket, our proposed T-Mobile merger will enable AT&T to improve our customers’ experience even more," the representative told Venture Beat.

In an informal study of Facebook "hate" pages, Venture Beat found AT&T to be the most-hated mobile carrier among Facebook users, as well. "The page for the group I Hate AT&T has 5,382 likes, while I Hate Verizon has only 404 likes. So while AT&T is America’s second largest mobile phone carrier with 100.7 million subscribers, it is 13 times more unpopular than Verizon, which has 107.7 million subscribers," Venture Beat writes. 

Sources: Consumer Reports, Venture Beat

"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA
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