Consumers rely upon annual polls and surveys conducted by product testing organizations to assist in determining the best wireless service plans. Organizations like Consumer Search, J.D. Power and Associates, PC Magazine and Consumer Reports compile a comprehensive list of desirable performance traits that consumers can compare to determine the appropriate wireless plans. 2009 survey information gathered by these information services continues to provide consumers the most complete view of mobile wireless services providers in the marketplace.
T-Mobile ranks well in J.D. Power and Associates and Consumer Reports due to greater variety in service plans, less expensive web access and text services. The MyFaves option was especially popular and rated highly by consumers. The least expensive plans run $30 per month and offer value to users with mostly weekend and evening calling needs. J.D. Power and Associates rank T-Mobile highest in satisfaction among most regions for service costs, billing options, service plans and overall performance in the southwest region. J.D. Power and Associates divides its rankings into six regional quadrants when assessing performance. PC Magazine awarded T-Mobile its Readers Choice award for satisfaction with customer service, plans and costs.
Verizon Wireless customers rate connectivity, less dropped calls and call quality as superior features. Plans begin at $40 for 450 minutes and free weekends and nights, but a drawback is most phones cannot be utilized in Europe. Verizon also ranks highest in southwest, northeast, southeast and mid-Atlantic regions for customer satisfaction based on J.D. Power and Associates polls.
U.S. Cellular has limited distribution in 26 states, but ratings are comparable to Verizon and T-Mobile in areas where all three services are available. The service also offers free incoming calls with several plans, and minutes are used only on outgoing calls. One drawback to U.S. Cellular is the lack of national coverage makes it a poor choice for international or nationwide use, and the limited coverage results in roaming fees in certain areas. According to J.D. Power and Associates, U.S. Cellular “gets especially high scores in its home market, the upper Midwest, and the Southwest” and holds the highest ranking specifically in the north central region for the eighth reporting period with fewer reported interference or static issues or connection problems.
Alltel has limited coverage areas but entered the J.D. Power and Associates survey ranking due to performance and limited number of failed messages, late messages or general problems associated with service. Alltel tied with Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile for the highest ranking in the west region in the same survey.