ChangeWave survey: Many AT&T iPhone users now plan to switch to Verizon

The details of a Verizon iPhone have finally been released, but what impact will this long expected move actually have on U.S. wireless service providers and their subscribers?

A new ChangeWave survey of 4,050 consumers, completed just days before the announcement, focused on the impact of a Verizon iPhone on the major U.S. Wireless Service Providers.

First, ChangeWave asked survey respondents how likely they were to change their wireless service provider in the next 90 days. A total of 10% said they plan on switching providers – 2-pts higher than a previous ChangeWave survey in September and the highest churn level of the past 18 months. Importantly, when we compared the churn rates for the top wireless providers, we found major differences.

Only 4% of Verizon’s customers plan to switch in the next 90 days. In comparison, 10% of Sprint/Nextel’s customers say they plan to switch, as do 15% of both T-Mobile’s and AT&T’s. As the following chart shows, AT&T’s churn rate is its worst ever in a ChangeWave survey:

What’s behind the weakening loyalty of AT&T customers? First, better than two-in-five likely switchers from AT&T cite Poor Reception/Coverage (42%) as their top reason for leaving, followed by Dropped Calls (27%).

Secondly, the weakening loyalty of AT&T wireless customers is directly attributable to the upcoming release of a Verizon iPhone. To gauge how many AT&T customers are going to switch to Verizon when they begin offering the iPhone, ChangeWave asked: For those who currently use AT&T as your wireless service provider, do you plan to switch to Verizon if-and-when they begin offering the iPhone (This survey was conducted in late December prior to the Verizon iPhone announcement):

A total of 16% of AT&T subscribers say they’ll switch to Verizon once it begins offering the iPhone. Another 23% say they don’t know if they’ll switch

[MDN Ed. – The fact that there is now really a Verizon iPhone vs. just the idea of it will affect the results. Now that the Verizon iPhone is reality, we expect these numbers to shift as the word spreads, as Verizon subscribers begin to see friends and family with new Verizon iPhones, and as Verizon marketing takes effect.]

Importantly, current Apple iPhone owners are the most likely group of all to switch, with more than one-in-four (26%) saying they’ll leave AT&T for Verizon.

Note that among all AT&T subscribers planning to switch, two-in-five (41%) say they’ll do it within the first three months of the iPhone’s release – and another 31% within the first year.

Additional report details include:
• Customer Satisfaction ratings for the major Wireless Service Providers
• Dropped Calls Rates – Past 90 Days by Wireless Provider
• Most Important Reasons for Switching – By Provider
• Wireless Providers Best Positioned to Gain from Customer Switching
• What AT&T Can Do to Retain At-Risk Customers Who Plan on Switching
• Tiered Data Plan Trends in the U.S.
• A Look at the Corporate Market: Wireless Service Provider Trends

Full report (US$ $1,500.00) here.

Source: ChangeWave Research


  1. Verizon ain’t GSM, which is the reason I started (with Cellular One) with cell phones in the first place. Unlock a GSM iPhone and you have the world available. Not so with CDMA. And, I live in an area that has excellent AT&T reception. Sue me.

  2. I put up with 2 years of zero reception at my house, and begged for Verizon to get the iPhone. Then one day, I looked at my phone and it had 4 bars! They must have installed a tower! So– I’m set for a while with AT&T.
    I like being able to google something while making a call.

  3. Does this sound like “big talk” to anyone else? “oh yeah, screw AT&T, I’m leaving” is easy and fun to say, a moment of consumer empowerment for the people being surveyed. But in reality? Sure, those with chronically bad service at home or work will go, but the big talkers will not take the trouble to switch…

  4. Good god, why does MDN persist in pushing Changewave’s garbage?

    MDN will bash Katy Huberty of Morgan Stanley for downgrading Apple twice in one week back at the end of September in 2008, which started Apple’s big slide from $180 to under $100. But, they forget what caused Katy to do it. It was a Changewave survey that said Mac sales buying sentiment showed the biggest weakness in 2 and a half years. By November, the next Changewave survey showed that their September numbers were garbage; however, noone retracted their nonsense, not Changewave and not Katy.

    Why is MDN pushing Changewave’s nonsense?

  5. I’m sticking with ATT …… No good reason to leave. Mark my words… Verizon WILL have major problems with dropped service.. They have NEVER had any device on their network that consumes as much as iPhone. Verizon also has HORRIBLE customer service.

  6. I’m stoked for people to leave AT&T. I’ve got great service. Less subscribers = less traffic. It will also force AT&T to make some plan price changes. Competition is GOOD.

  7. It would be interesting to see how the people planning to switch correlate to the volume of data they use. If the most eager switchers are those that really suck data then AT&T might be happy to see them go to an extent, and obviously they will lessen the load on the network as a whole more than an occasional user.

  8. I use an AT&T Microcell now (which they “thoughtfully” gave to me) and now after like about 15 years I get decent cell phone reception at home up in the hills of SoCal. I am going to San Francisco in a few months on a 2 year gig and worry about AT&T’s reception there downtown, especially in the Mission District (but more for the 3G for my iPad reception). I got my iP4 on AT&T last summer so I’m locked in for the moment. AT&T seems to have some advantages Verizon doesn’t. None of which are all that important to me.

    It’s going to be REAL interesting, as in we live in interesting times, to see what happens to the hordes once they get the choice to bail.

  9. Speaking as a foreigner who therefore doesn’t give a shit about CDMA, I’m confused. Won’t these switchers need to buy a second phone? The iPhone is expensive enough as it is, without having to shell out for two of them, surely?

    And what about when a Verizon customer travels overseas? Must buy an AT&T phone in order to use an overseas network. Sounds like a silly circus to me.

    NTSC then CDMA. What prompts America to adopt second-rate technology?

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