1 in 4 AT&T iPhone users say they'll switch to Verizon

ChangeWave survey finds many AT&T customers dissatisfied with reception/coverage

A new ChangeWave Research survey of 4,050 consumers, completed just days before Verizon announced plans to offer Apple's iPhone, reveals that the carrier will be able to draw significant numbers of new subscribers from its rivals.

Of the sample, 10% said they plan on switching wireless providers in the next 90 days: 2-points higher than a previous ChangeWave survey in September and the highest churn level of the past 18 months.

It seems most of Verizon's success will be from switchers coming from rival carriers, instead of its existing customers: only 4% of Verizon's customers plan to switch in the next 90 days, compared with 10% of Sprint customers, and 15% of both T-Mobile and AT&T subscribers.

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ChangeWave found that AT&T's churn rate has more than doubled since June 2009, from 6% to 15% of AT&T customers saying they are "very likely" or "somewhat likely" to switch wireless carriers in the next 90 days.

These AT&T customers apparently have had it with the network's quality: 42% of these switchers cite poor reception/coverage as their top reason for leaving, followed by dropped calls, cited by 27%.

A total of 16% of existing AT&T subscribers say they'll switch to Verizon once it begins offering the iPhone; 23% say they don't know if they'll switch; 60% will stay with AT&T. Current Apple iPhone owners are the most likely group of all to switch: 26% saying they'll leave AT&T for Verizon.

In asking respondents how often they experienced dropped calls in the past 90 days, ChangeWave found major improvements for AT&T, though it still lags far behind Verizon Wireless at least in perception of network quality. The results showed 4.7% of the AT&T users in the survey had dropped calls, compared with 6.0% in the September 2010 survey.

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.

Twitter: http://twitter.com/johnwcoxnww

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