AT&T Takes a Commanding Lead... In Dropped CallsS

AT&T may have improved their dropped call performance lately, but they've still got a lot of work to do. According to a recent survey from ChangeWave Research, AT&T customers experience 3x the percentage of dropped calls as Verizon users. Ouch.

Maybe the least surprising part of the survey was that those dropped calls led to consumer dissatisfaction, though this time AT&T shared the dishonorable mention with T-Mobile:

AT&T Takes a Commanding Lead... In Dropped CallsS

There's no question that AT&T has put serious resources behind improving their network, and major improvements are expected for this summer. But until users start actually feeling those improvements in their day to day lives—without having to resort to a MicroCell 3G—there are going to be a lot of folks interested in jumping ship if and when the iPhone ever hits Verizon.

Updated: An AT&T spokesperson sent the following statement:

The opinions compiled in this survey are dramatically at odds with actual quantitative results derived from millions of calls made during extensive drive-testing of the AT&T mobile broadband network by a highly respected outside firm.

Those results, from GWS, show that, on a national basis, AT&T is within just two-tenths of a percent of the industry leader in wireless call retainability. That's a difference of just two calls in a thousand, a virtual dead-heat.

In fact, the statistically valid drive test shows the AT&T network continues to deliver the nation's fastest 3G network and near best-in-class call retainability nationwide. AT&T's network dropped only 1.44 percent of calls nationwide, within two-tenths of 1 percent of the industry leader and a difference of less than two calls out of 1,000.

It's true that how often people think their calls are dropped is entirely different from how often they actually are. And there's also no clear indication from ChargeWire which markets were tested (another GWS survey shows that in NYC drive testing, AT&T and Verizon are neck and neck for reliability), which makes the survey less than helpful on an individual basis.

So is it possible that AT&T is just fighting perception bias in this ChargeWire survey? Sure. But based on the comments, it's also true that dropped calls are still endemic to certain pockets of AT&T service, and that it's still an uphill climb to buff up that perception. [ChangeWave via PC World]