Survey: More Than Twice As Many Dropped Calls On AT&T iPhone 4 Than Verizon


Credit: ChangeWave

A recent survey of U.S. iPhone owners found similar levels of high satisfaction across AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ) customers except for one key (and unsurprising) difference: phone calls. ChangeWave’s latest consumer survey found that while 82 percent of Verizon iPhone owners were very satisfied with their purchase, and 80 percent of AT&T customers felt the same way, AT&T customers reported about two and a half as many dropped calls on their iPhone 4 as experienced by Verizon customers with the same device.

Frustration over dropped calls on AT&T’s network has been a running theme almost from the day the iPhone made its debut on that network, and while the situation has improved according to ChangeWave’s data, it’s still pretty bad. Overall, AT&T has the worst dropped-call rate among U.S. carriers, with Verizon in the lead followed by T-Mobile and then Sprint (NYSE: S).

That may be why of the prospective iPhone 4 buyers surveyed, 46 percent told ChangeWave they’d opt for Verizon, as compared to 27 percent who wanted to use AT&T. ChangeWave correctly notes that Verizon’s network may one day face the same kind of capacity crunch at AT&T’s since only a fraction of iPhone 4s in general run on Verizon’s network, where they have only been available since February.



I get dropped ATT calls just sitting in my living room or on the patio. Has little to do with my movement. I get a good connection for about 180 seconds, then, bam, the call is dropped.


Did they account for Verizon calls purposely dropped in order to run an app or search on the net?


Unless comparing apples with apples, then this may not mean that much: for example, say the carriers had customer profiles with usage habits that were different, such as ATT callers were calling more during the busiest part of the business week, whilst Verizon were largely calling at off-peak times etc etc. It’s an headline grabbing statistic, but it’s devoid of any factual back-up. I use ATT, and have some call cut-offs, so I have a bias.

Are the phones actually identical? If they aren’t, then it’s only the phone model name that’s the same.


The dropped calls have to do more or less with the differences in technology that Verizon and AT&T employ on their networks. While I would imagine that both customer bases make probably about the same amount of calls at any given time period (I am assuming this as both Verizon and AT&T have very similar numbers when it comes to number of subscribers), it comes down to the wireless technology and not the phones (again, my opinion). Verizon uses CDMA (code-division multiple access) while AT&T uses GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications). When going from tower to tower (tower-hopping), because CDMA devices can be connected to more than one tower at a time, before a device disconnects from one tower, it likely already has a connection to the next tower, which prevents call drop. With GSM, a device can only be connected to one tower at a time, so if that tower-hop doesn’t go as successfully, then you get a dropped call.

I hope I cleared up the biggest reason why VZW has fewer dropped calls than GSM based AT&T.

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