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Once again, the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) spells out the best wireless providers in the United States. There are some changes this time around. Some carriers got better, and others got worse. The good news is that, while there are winners, there are no losers. All wireless providers scored in the 7 to 8 range out of 10 categories. While that is great news, it can also make finding a clear choice for you and your needs as clear as mud.
In this column I will share with you some of the data from this most recent report. I will also share some thoughts on what it means, and how to choose the best wireless provider for you.
How to choose the right wireless provider for you
This report breaks up the wireless providers into two different categories.
One: Mobile Network Operators (MNO), which means Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile. These companies own their own towers and networks. There are also other smaller companies with a more limited footprint like U.S. Cellular, C Spire Wireless and others.
Two: Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO). There are two types of MVNO providers, Full-Service MVNO and Value MVNO.
Full-Service MVNO providers include Cricket Wireless from AT&T, Xfinity Mobile, Spectrum Mobile, Altice Mobile, Metro from T-Mobile, Google Project Fi and others.
Value MVNO include companies like Consumer Cellular, Straight Talk Wireless, Total Wireless, Tracfone, SafeLink Wireless, Simple Mobile, Walmart Family Mobile, Q Link Wireless, Assurance Wireless and others.
Which is best wireless MNO or MVNO for you?
No MVNO providers own and operate their own wireless networks. Instead, they are resellers. They resell either Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile or AT&T Mobility.
With that in mind, the quality of an MVNO therefore cannot be any better than the carrier it resells. That means that none of them is ever any better than AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile.
I was surprised to learn how several MVNO resellers have lower quality. Something to be aware of as you're comparing providers.
AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, US Cellular, wireless MNO providers
Cricket Wireless resells and is owned by AT&T. The quality of this service is excellent. Xfinity Mobile and Spectrum Mobile resell Verizon Wireless. Altice Mobile resells T-Mobile. All three also offer good quality.
I have tried several different MVNO resellers and have had mixed results. Some are excellent in quality and customer service while others were terrible.
Another point to consider with MVNO resellers is that they generally don’t offer advanced services like international usage. They also take a secondary position when the network is busy, among other things.
Xfinity Mobile, Spectrum Mobile, Altice Mobile, Project Fi and other MVNO resellers
In this report, AT&T Mobility is shown to have improved performance by one point, while T-Mobile has shown to have worsened performance by one point.
Is one point really a reason to choose one provider over another? Most people do not think this is a big enough difference.
The bottom line is this. While there are winners and losers in this report, the difference between winners and losers is so tiny it doesn’t really matter.
The wireless industry in this country has been getting better and stronger, year after year, and it will continue going in that direction.
That’s the real value in these reports today. They keep each competitor on its toes.
Choosing the best wireless provider for your needs
Choose the carrier you want based on your own personal needs and experience with coverage, customer service, costs and so on.
There are differences, but what one customer thinks is a winner, another customer will think is a loser, and vice versa.
Even though all wireless carriers offer excellent connectivity, there are real differences.
For example, in my neighborhood, one carrier has a stronger coverage signal than others. My morning coffee group all says the same thing, but each has a different strongest carrier. So, it all depends on where they live, work and spend time.
ACSI wireless reports are valuable in general
These ACSI reports are important. They are valuable for a general conclusion. They are like the photo finish in a horse race. They give an accurate view of the race.
This kind of tracking keeps all carriers aware of their competition and keeps them all on top of their game.
Most services today, however, are all so close to each other. Choosing the right carrier for you within this group is the new challenge.
Remember, the best choice for you may not be the best choice for someone who lives close by. It all depends on where you spend time each day. There are differences among the carriers, and only you can determine what is best for you.
Jeff Kagan is an Equities News columnist. Kagan is a Wireless Analyst, Technology Analyst and Commentator who follows Telecom, Pay TV, Cloud, AI, IoT, Tele Health, Healthcare, Automotive, Self-Driving cars and more. Email him at [email protected]. His web site is www.jeffKAGAN.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeffkagan and LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/in/jeff-kagan/.
Equities Columnist: Jeff Kagan
Source: Equities News