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AT&T again ranks last in Consumer Reports survey

AT&T once again has the lowest customer satisfaction ratings of any wireless carrier in the United States, according to the latest survey from Consumer Reports.

A survey of more than 66,000 consumers found that AT&T received the worst possible marks for its voice service, its phone customer support and its overall value to consumers. The carrier also received subpar marks for its data services, Consumer Reports found. Overall the carrier scored a 59 out of 100 on Consumer Reports' customer satisfaction scale, well behind rivals Verizon (73 out of 100), Sprint (72 out of 100) and T-Mobile (67 out of 100).

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However, none of the major carriers should rest too easily since they were all outscored on the survey by smaller carriers Consumer Cellular (87 out of 100), U.S. Cellular (84 out of 100) and Credo (78 out of 100). Paul Reynolds, the electronics editor at Consumer Reports, said that while smaller carriers had higher levels of customer satisfaction, their appeal is limited because they lack access to the high-end smartphones offered by the major players.

"These carriers aren't for everyone," he said. "Some are only regional, and prepaid carriers tend to offer few or no smartphones. The major carriers are still leading options for many consumers."

AT&T has been the lowest-ranked carrier on the Consumer Reports survey since 2009 when consumers similarly ranked the carrier as the worst for voice quality. The most recent data from the American Customer Satisfaction Index released earlier this year also showed that AT&T ranked last among U.S. wireless carriers and that its overall customer satisfaction score had dropped to its lowest level since 2006.

The latest Consumer Reports data is more unwelcome news for AT&T, which is currently fighting to keep its troubled $39 billion proposed merger with T-Mobile alive. Last month Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski submitted a proposal for an administrative hearing before an administrative law judge that could effectively end AT&T's T-Mobile takeover bid if the judge concurs with the FCC's assessment that the merger would not be in the public interest.

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