Wireless customer satisfaction rates at 2-year high

Cowen and Company conduct quarterly surveys of wireless customers. (Cowen and Company)

According to a new survey from the Wall Street research firm Cowen and Company, most U.S. wireless postpaid customers are pretty satisfied with their current wireless provider. In fact, the overall satisfaction score the firm recorded during its second-quarter survey of more than 1,000 wireless customers was at its highest level since the back half of 2016.

“The percent of postpaid respondents who said they are ‘happy’ and plan to stay with their carrier was 73.5% and was the highest level since 3Q16,” the firm wrote of its findings. “At the same time, the percent of postpaid respondents who plan to switch carriers also remains low at 11.7% compared to prior-2015 levels. The results appear to reflect a perceived greater level of network parity across the carriers and less differentiation in device line-ups, although with that said, it will be interesting to see what the impact is of future video bundling as a differentiator by companies including today AT&T and Comcast.”

According to the firm’s findings, T-Mobile customers reported the highest levels of happiness at 85.1%, with Sprint coming in second and Verizon coming in third. AT&T customers clocked in with the lowest levels of happiness at 70.2%.

When the firm asked survey respondents why they might leave their current provider, a “better price” remained the driving reason among all carriers. The firm found that 12.6% of iPhone customers said they plan to switch to a different provider, and 10.6% of non-iPhone customers said they plan to leave their current provider.

Importantly, Sprint appears poised to lose the most carriers among its nationwide competitors. The Cowen survey found that 21.3% of Sprint customers said they plan to switch providers, with AT&T coming in second at 12.8%, T-Mobile third at 11.7% and Verizon fourth at just 8.4%.

Cowen’s findings are noteworthy considering the nation’s wireless operators have mostly entered a new phase. Competition has eased, and now Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon all offer unlimited data pricing plans. Moreover, Verizon, AT&T and Sprint have largely finished their respective LTE network buildouts (though T-Mobile continues to add new LTE markets via the deployment of its new 700 MHz and 600 MHz spectrum).

Likely as a result, churn levels among most of the nation’s wireless operators are at their lowest points ever.

But this situation may change in the coming years as wireless operators deploy new services including 5G. Further, Sprint and T-Mobile may still shake up the industry if their merger is approved.