The results are in for the latest Consumer Reports ranking of cellular providers and the findings offer a clear distinction between the two main carriers.
Or do they?
Released Thursday, the new rankings list, in order, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T as the top wireless providers. In the greater Dickinson area, the top two providers are Verizon and AT&T. Although Verizon tops the new overall satisfaction rankings -- which were based on more than 60,000 responses from readers of the magazine -- AT&T came in first in another key category: AT&T's 4G LTE network was tops when compared to all other networks.
"We're very pleased that our customers rate their 4G experience as the best of any carrier," said AT&T spokesman Alex Carey. "We've invested significantly to deliver unique advantages, including offering the nation's largest 4G network, which enables the fastest iPhone 5 downloads and simultaneous talk and surf."
The fourth generation of mobile communications standards, 4G is a system that provides mobile ultra-broadband Internet access to wireless devices. Customers in Dickinson were offered 4G service beginning early 2012. Some western North Dakota residents -- and workers from out of state who frequent the Bakken -- had complained of interrupted coverage earlier this fall.
The issues were blamed in part by the use of after-market signal boosters and enhancers, which, according to AT&T, have the ability to interfere with signal strength. In recent weeks, however, the problem seems to have settled down.
"I go through AT&T and my kids have Verizon," said cellular customer and Dickinson resident Marietta Martin. "I don't see much of a difference in the two. I'm happy with the service I have."
While AT&T claims to be the best 4G provider nationwide, Verizon spokesperson Karen Smith indicated her company has the best plan in North Dakota.
"We continue to strive to provide customers in North Dakota the largest 4G LTE network, best product portfolio and overall best customer experience," said Smith in a statement.
Carey said AT&T is committed to bringing continued improved service to its Dickinson area and Bakken customers.
"In terms of western North Dakota, AT&T's coverage has improved immensely as of late," Carey said. "We have invested $30 million in network infrastructure since inheriting Alltel's customers."
AT&T purchased Alltel in 2009. The new Consumer Reports wireless rankings came out as part of the magazine's new January issue.
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