KEY POINTS

  • BI Intelligence's Digital Telecom Consumer Study asked our 17,000-member survey panel to weigh in on which US mobile carrier is doing the best job. The survey had two sections:
    • The first part asked respondents about the features that are most important to them and then gauges if that importance is nice to have or essential from their willingness to switch carriers over those features.
    • The second part asked respondents to rate their current carrier on those features as well as other attributes. 
  • T-Mobile is the clear winner, with its customers giving it the highest marks for loyalty, value, and satisfaction. Here's how the carrier fared on each metric:
    • Twenty-three percent of T-Mobile subscribers said nothing could make them switch to another carrier. That was seven percentage points higher than AT&T, the second-place finisher on this measure of loyalty.
    • Sixty-eight percent of its users said T-Mobile offered "good" or "outstanding" value for cost, blowing away the competition. Sprint came next at just 47%.
    • Eighty-five percent of T-Mobile customers said they were at least somewhat satisfied. That compares with about an average of about 75% across the four biggest US telecoms and No. 2 Verizon's 79%. 
  • That’s not to say T-Mobile is perfect — its customers identified a couple places it could improve. Although it ranks well in terms of network speeds, its subscribers often identify better coverage in the US as a pain point for them. 
  • Verizon and AT&T leave their customers feeling besieged by high costs and annoying fees. The carriers face some of the same challenges, as shown by their virtual tie for last on value for cost.
  • Sprint was seen as a good value, but lagged far behind its peers on loyalty and satisfaction. Its customers said they would switch for better customer service and improved network coverage at home.
  • When it comes to features, consumers still value the basics most.  Unlimited data, high-speed networks, and good coverage at home were the offerings users were most likely to list as important.
  • More consumers said a high-speed mobile network was a “must-have” feature than unlimited data. Eighty-four percent of consumers said that a fast network is essential when selecting a wireless provider — well above the 68% who said unlimited data.
  • International coverage is top of mind for consumers. It was cited as a must-have feature by 40% of respondents.
  • Free content doesn't incentivize consumers to switch mobile carriers. Almost all survey respondents said it's not a must-have offering, and 88% said they don't consider it [...]