And the No. 1 Wireless Carrier Is …

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T-Mobile is the best big wireless carrier for customer satisfaction, a new survey shows.

Various smaller carriers beat out all four of the big carriers, however.

That’s based on responses from 29,000 Consumer Reports subscribers regarding cellphone providers in 31 U.S. metropolitan areas.

Among the so-called “Big Four” carriers, Sprint ranked last. Consumer Reports found that both Sprint’s traditional, monthly billed service and its prepaid service fared poorly.

The other two big carriers, Verizon and AT&T, ranked below T-Mobile and above Sprint. They earned good marks for voice, text and Web service.

CNN Money reports that this year is the first in the five-year history of Consumer Reports’ carrier survey that Verizon did not earn the No. 1 spot among the Big Four.

Perhaps the biggest surprise in the survey results is that many of the most satisfied respondents use smaller carriers, which include:

  • Consumer Cellular
  • Cricket
  • Page Plus Cellular
  • Republic Wireless
  • Ting Wireless

Consumer Reports explains:

Exceptional scores for value helped propel these cellphone providers to the top for overall customer satisfaction. These companies offer lower costs and responsive, knowledgeable staff members. And some of them compensate subscribers who use less service than they’ve [signed up] for.

Republic and Ting, for example, charge customers only for the minutes, texts and data they actually use.

Consumer Reports also found that it can pay to switch carriers:

  • Nearly half of survey respondents who had switched carriers in the past year saw their monthly rates drop by $20 or more.
  • Roughly 40 percent of those respondents said they got more reliable coverage, faster data service and better customer service.

Which wireless carrier have you been most satisfied with? Let us know why below or on our Facebook page.

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