Verizon ends AT&T’s J.D. Power winning streak

AT&T(s t) was on a bit of roll this summer when it came to its rankings in J.D. Power’s influential consumer perception surveys. It knocked Verizon Wireless(s vz)(s vod) off its long-held perch as king of customer service, and it displaced Sprint(s s) from the top of the purchasing rankings. But AT&T failed to achieve the trifecta.

Verizon won J.D. Power’s network quality title by a wide margin, ranking highest in all six regions of the country for the first time. Verizon always does well in these surveys, but typically U.S. Cellular(s usm) bests the megacarrier in the North Central region it calls home. This time U.S. Cellular and Verizon were in a dead tie in the Midwest, and Verizon outscored its competitors in the remaining five regions – in most cases handily.

JD Power network quality 2013 Midwest

AT&T ranked second in all regions, while T-Mobile(s tmus) and Sprint flip-flopped between third and fourth in different areas. The study takes into account things like dropped and failed calls, slow internet connection speeds and connection errors.

If there was one title Verizon probably wanted to hold onto most it was this one. Though its one of the country’s most expensive mobile carriers, Verizon has built its reputation on network quality, coverage and customer service. Losing out to AT&T in the customer service category has got to sting, but it will still be able to claim it has the better network – at least by J.D. Power’s calculations.

That will be good ammunition to have in the coming months, as AT&T has become increasingly aggressive in attacking Verizon’s network performance. Several independent studies have shown AT&T’s LTE network has been outpacing Verizon’s in speed. Ma Bell has even challenged Verizon’s longtime tagline “nation’s most reliable network.”

AT&T is sure to make a big deal about its J.D. Power wins as we approach the holiday shopping season, just as Verizon is sure to boast about its own network rankings. And six months from now, the whole process will start over again when J.D. Power recalculates its scores.