Consumer Reports rates the top handsets and services from all carriers

Consumer Reports has rated the top wireless carriers and their handset selections recently, and mobile operators Cingular Wireless and Sprint Nextel were somehow singled out as poor performers in this report. Now, honestly, I don't pay to much attention to Consumer Reports -- the reviews are almost always to vague, they don't rate what's important to many of us and the reviews are not comparative enough to be useful. But, the country pays attention and that is what counts here.

It's amazing that Consumer Reports subscribers give wireless carriers overall a score of 66 out of 100 -- which puts wireless service on par with other lower performers like as cable TV and computer tech support. I rarely have an issue with my wireless service, though (and I have a few carriers) and would rate my service as 'very good', right there with my satellite TV service (which is excellent).

But, one thing I agree with is how the readers responded to Cingular's claim of "fewest dropped calls" -- which I have always found to be bogus (and I subscribe to Cingular!). Consumer Reports found that Cingular is "about average" on dropped calls and is also "one of the poorer performers" in overall satisfaction. Ouch.

Sprint Nextel and Cingular were at the bottom of the list in most of the 20 metropolitan areas the magazine surveyed, while Verizon received the overall best rating for network quality and responsiveness to customer inquiries. Alltel garnered top place in many markets where it has service, and T-Mobile also ranked solidly.

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