Sprint Nextel and Verizon Wireless got the highest ratings in overall satisfaction among the four largest wireless carriers in a survey of business owners released Wednesday by the Yankee Group and Mobile Enterprise magazine. The two carriers also showed the most consistency in categories of satisfaction.
"Among large businesses, these two carriers are neck and neck for both wireless voice and data service relationships, and Verizon holds a slight advantage in the SMB voice space," wrote Eugene C. Signorini, a vice president of the Boston-based Yankee Group.
Survey respondents gave Sprint an average 7.32 rating on a one-to-10 scale, and 7.22 to Verizon, the nation's largest wireless carrier. AT&T, the second biggest network, got a 6.90 rating, while T-Mobile was ranked in the middle with 7.19.
Big Four Command Enterprise
The survey found that the big four control 99 percent of "primary carrier voice relationships" among large businesses and 92 percent among small to midsize companies, with Verizon and AT&T the most common for both voice and data. Sprint and T-Mobile came in second and third, respectively, among both large businesses and SMBs for voice and data.
The survey found that most business users are satisfied with their carriers, with only 12 percent of large businesses and 16 percent of SMBs considering switching their voice plan. Only 10 percent of large businesses and 12 percent of SMBs said they were considering switching data plans.
The data was collected in November from a Yankee Group panel of business decision-makers and Mobile Enterprise readers. Among the respondents, 274 were from companies with more than 500 employees, and 292 were from SMBs.
Key Market Group
The survey projected that while most of the smartphone initiatives in recent years have been aimed at individual consumers, some 78 million wireless subscribers are business users, with that number expected to grow to 90 million in 2013.
That presents an opportunity for carriers, said Signorini.
"The penetration of smartphones and wireless broadband connectivity on laptops remains low, representing a growth opportunity for wireless carriers," he wrote.
The report found that Sprint made inroads with enterprise clients because of its marketing of Nextel push-to-talk services. It found that 30 percent of large businesses and 19 percent of SMBs are using Sprint "among their total portfolio of wireless voice providers," while 26 percent of large businesses are also using Sprint for data services.
Boost For Sprint
Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services for J.D. Power and Associates, said that while the high rating for Verizon wasn't surprising, the satisfaction level for Sprint was.
A J.D. Power report last May found that the carrier scored below average in both the small office/home office and SMB categories. J.D. Power does not collect data on large enterprise users.
"While Sprint may have improved since the time we conducted our study, Sprint's scores tend to be below average," Parsons said.