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

Preston Gralla | Feb. 4, 2014
Which U.S. cell phone service is the best when it comes to what you really use a phone for these days -- data? Which gives you the most widespread and reliable access to its data network, fast upload and download speeds, the most bang for your buck?

AT&T won by a mile here, with 90% of customers satisfied and only 2% dissatisfied. Even customers of T-Mobile, which rated the worst in this category, are still a happy bunch, with 70% satisfied and 12% dissatisfied.

Tech support and customer service

We've all been there: Stuck on hold listening to easy-listening music that is not so easy to listen to, fuming while we wait our turn to get non-answers to even the simplest of questions.

Or maybe not. At least, that's what our findings show. People are reasonably pleased with both the technical support and the customer service that their cell phone providers offer.

For technical support, about 58% of people said they were satisfied, and only 9% were dissatisfied. T-Mobile came out on top here, with 68% satisfied and only 9% dissatisfied.

People are even more pleased with the customer service they get, with 65% being satisfied and 11% dissatisfied on average.

There were no great differences among cell providers when it comes to customer service satisfaction, but for once, Sprint topped the bunch in satisfied responses, at 68%. However, Sprint also had the highest rate of dissatisfied responses at 14%. AT&T's 63% satisfied responses were the lowest in the bunch, with 11% of AT&T customers saying they were dissatisfied with its customer service.

Your mobile data use

How do people actually use their mobile data? Are they on 3G or 4G networks? What are their primary uses for the network once they hop on? The survey has some interesting and definitive answers to these and other questions.

People are transitioning to high-speed 4G networks, with 4G slightly ahead of 3G. Some 39% said they connect via 4G networks, 32% via 3G and 26% on either 3G or 4G, depending on their location. The remainder of people either don't know what speed network they use, or else are using a 2G network.

T-Mobile users are 4G-centric, with 57% reporting that they always connect via 4G, while Sprint users are slowpokes, with only 11% always connecting via 4G.

Somewhat surprisingly, our survey shows that smartphone users are not data addicts — at least not when they're connecting via a mobile network instead of Wi-Fi. Only 31% reported themselves as using a data connection for more than an hour a day (23% use it between one and three hours, and 8% use it for more than three hours). Some 34% use the data connection between 20 minutes and an hour a day, 21% between 10 and 20 minutes a day, and perhaps most surprisingly, 14% use it less than 10 minutes a day.

T-Mobile users love their data, though: 19% use their data connection more than three hours a day, and 25% use it for between one and three hours.


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