Friday, January 3, 2014

The New Year Shuffle

One of the things we do at Mountain Wireless is Rate each cellular carrier based on how they perform compared to the others.  As some carriers slip to a lower position, others move up, even if they haven't made any improvements.  Lately, there has been a shakeup among the Top 5 carriers which has resulted in a shakeup in their Ratings at our site.  The actual Rating number isn't that important, but the changes might cause you to reconsider which of the top tier carriers you want to use:

  • AT&T has been raised 2 whole places in their ratings over the past 3 months after they have chosen to compete, mostly against the recent moves of T-Mobile, which has resulted in several consumer-friendly features and plans.  They changed the no-contract pricing so you really aren't charged for your phone after you pay it off.  Also, they have some new, lower-priced plans that  appeal to a more modest user.
  • Sprint has been dropped one rating point even though they have made significant improvements in their network coverage.  What has given them a lesser rank is their lack of really competitive plans and, for some reason, a whole bunch of consumer complaints.  We can't point to any one factor.  We're guessing they are either having a difficult time finding properly trained help, or  just not enough of them.
  • T-Mobile moved up 2 notches over the past 6 months for several reasons.  They made some significant technical changes, part of which was re-aligning their coverage bands to support the iPhone.  A year ago they were slacking off, now, under an aggressive CEO, they have become the wireless "disrupter". Not only do they offer a wide variety of competitive prices, they have made the huge move of allowing their customers to roam internationally, either Free or at a reasonable rate.  Remember when free nationwide roaming across the US was a big deal?
  • Verizon has lost one position in the Ratings mainly because they have chosen to the be "premium" carrier, and with their superior coverage across the US, especially at 4G, they have earned that higher value.  But the price-sensitive customer has much better places to go.
  • US Cellular keeps moving forward even though we reduced them from the lofty Top position in the Ratings earlier last year.  We were ready to drop them again but finally offering the iPhone brought them back into keeping their lofty position by giving something that keeps customers from escaping.
We expect these competitive positions to change over the next year as pricing becomes more important than coverage. What great times we live in!

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