Verizon and AT&T are the two best wireless networks in the country, according to the highly regarded RootMetrics survey, but which one has the most loyal customer base?

Earlier in 2014, RootMetrics survey of the big 4 wireless carriers named Verizon and AT&T as the country's best two wireless networks. Verizon beat out all the competition in network reliability, speed, and data and call performance. But AT&T was nipping at its heels, with a score of 79.5, just below Verizon's 81.6 showing. T-Mobile and Sprint brought up the rear with scores of 71.5 and 69.6, respectively.

Micheal Hodel, an analyst at Morningstar, noted that while "Verizon Wireless' continued strong customer loyalty indicates that a large percentage of customers choose the firm for attributes it controls directly, including its network reputation ... the separation between Verizon and second-place finisher AT&T was small."

He also pointed out that AT&T has instituted a policy of moving customers who are overpaying to lower-priced plans, and that type of service "continues to produce strong customer loyalty, with customer defections remaining at a record low level."

While Verizon won the RootMetrics survey by a nose, the lower churn rate champ by a tiny fraction goes to AT&T, whose churn rate, the number of customers who leave a carrier in a given quarter, came in at 0.99 percent as opposed to Verizon's rate of 1 percent. Again, T-Mobile and Sprint didn't even compete, with 1.6 percent and 2.18 percent churn rates, respectively.

What do the customers themselves say? It appears they prefer Verizon, according to recent surveys. In a recent Zogby survey of the worst companies for customer service, AT&T ranked eighth, while Verizon didn't make the top 10. And in a Consumer Reports survey of wireless customers in 2013, Verizon topped the list, while AT&T actually came in third behind both Verizon and T-Mobile.

The most recent survey available was done by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP), which just last month announced a study of loyalty rates for wireless carriers in the third quarter of 2014. The CIRP report found Verizon the clear winner, with 89 percent customer retention rate in the period, compared with 85 percent for AT&T.

So it appears from all the data that even though AT&T has made progress and comes in a close second, Verizon is the champion in the battle of customer loyalty for wireless carriers.

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