AT&T network ranked worst among major U.S. carriers by J.D. Power [updated]

Wondering why AT&T is hustling to get that 4G LTE network up and running ahead of schedule? AT&T has been ranked worst among the four major wireless carriers in the U.S. according to the J.D. Power and Associates U.S. 2011 Wireless Network Quality Performance Study. The major nationwide survey looks at overall network performance for the four major U.S. cell phone service providers as well as top regional carriers from around the country. Among the big four — Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile — Verizon Wireless found itself atop the list in each of the six regions where J.D. Power performed its tests. On the other end of the spectrum, AT&T was either last or tied at the bottom in five out of the six regions. Read on for more.

Updated with AT&T’s statement below.

In the North Central, Southeast and Southwest regions, AT&T tied for last place with Sprint. In the Mid-Atlantic region, AT&T sat in a three-way tie behind Verizon Wireless, and AT&T was alone at the bottom in the Northeast region. In the Southwest, the only region where AT&T was not found to be at the bottom, the carrier tied Sprint for second-best performance while Verizon sat at the top and T-Mobile was ranked worst. “Based on the varying degree of consistency with overall network performance, it’s critical that wireless carriers continue to invest in improving both the voice quality and data connection-related issues that customers continue to experience,” said Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services at J.D. Power and Associates. J.D. Power ranked network performance in 10 key areas for this study: dropped calls; calls not connected; audio issues; failed/late voicemails; lost calls; text transmission failures; late text message notifications; Web connection errors; email connection errors; and slow downloads.

UPDATE: The following statement was sent to BGR via email by an AT&T spokesperson:

Over the past year, third party drive tests have shown consistently strong call retainability for AT&T. Nationally, we are within two calls out of a thousand behind the only higher score, and we are focused on continued improvement to deliver the industry’s best call retainability for our customers. AT&T is constantly working to deliver the nation’s most advanced wireless experience, and as a result our customers have access to the nation’s fastest mobile broadband network, with the ability to talk and surf the Web at the same time and access to the broadest international coverage of any U.S. provider.

We’re going to incredible lengths — and investing billions of dollars — to make our customers’ experience even better. And further improving the customer experience is the motivation behind our proposed acquisition of T-Mobile USA.

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