Cell phones

A comprehensive look at consumer feelings about various wireless sectors and providers suggests that the industry held up well in the face of the huge burdens brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. The overall mobile consumer satisfaction score “remains steady” at 74 out of 100 points, according to “The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) Wireless Phone Service and Cell Phone Study 2020-2021.”

While mobile network operators (MNOs) repeated last year’s score of 73, there were some changes in other categories. Full service mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) declined 2.7% to 73. Satisfaction with value MVNOs also slid, finishing 75. Though the score for the category decreased, value MVNOs did beat the other wireless categories. Satisfaction with cell phones, which had a small increase last year, dropped 1.3% to finish at 79.

Here are other results in the study, which was based on interviews with 21,189 randomly selected customers between April 1, 2020 and March 29, 2021:

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  • Cell phones: Samsung (81), Apple, Motorola and Google (80 each).
  • Mobile Network Operator: AT&T, Verizon Wireless (74 each), T-Mobile (72) and U.S. Cellular (69).
  • Network Quality: Verizon Wireless (79), AT&T (77), T-Mobile (74), U.S. Cellular (72).
  • Wireless Plan Pricing: $501-$1,000 per month (most satisfaction), $26-$50 (“also quite satisfied and most loyal”) and $251-$500 (most dissatisfied).
  • Full-featured MVNOs and other carriers: Xfinity (78), Cricket Wireless and Spectrum Mobile (both at 74) and Boost Mobile (71).
  • Value MVNOs: Consumer Cellular (77), Straight Talk Wireless (76), Total Wireless and Tracfone (both at 75), SafeLink Wireless (73), Simple Mobile (71), Walmart Family Mobile (69), Q Link Wireless (68) and Assurance Wireless (67).

The perception is that it was a good year. “When you consider how much consumers relied on wireless this past year, the relative stability of the industry is a win,” ACSI Managing Director David VanAmburg, said in a press release about the mobile consumer satisfaction research. “Sure, customer satisfaction with value MVNOs and full-service MVNOs has subsided a bit, but not enough to create a stir. Where things start to get interesting, however, is the cell phone space. Let’s just say the iPhone is no longer the apple of the consumer’s eye.”

In May 2020, ACSI reported a strong performance by relatively young Xfinity Mobile. The company, then three years old, reported having 2 million customers and scored a 79. This was the highest among full service MVNOs and second highest in the three categories assessed. And while the company’s score this year dropped to 78, it still led all other operators in all categories.

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