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updated 3/14/2011 2:10:34 PM ET 2011-03-14T18:10:34

Readers of Consumer Reports have bestowed upon AT&T the dubious honor of being the worst cell phone carrier in the United States. Meanwhile, longstanding top-ranked Verizon fell behind a carrier called U.S. Cellular that operates in 26 states, according to survey results.

More than 58,000 respondents voiced their opinions in categories including value, service (for voice, texting and data) and customer support.

The stats were gathered for 23 metropolitan markets across the nation, and in every single location, AT&T came in dead last.

For contract cell phone services, AT&T scored an overall poor 60, while T-Mobile racked up 69 points, Sprint 73, Verizon Wireless 74, and the U.S Cellular impressed with a high score of 82.

For non-contract cell phone services, AT&T again brought up the rear. Consumer Cellular, meanwhile, went to the top of the class, followed by runners-up TracFone, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless and Virgin Mobile.

Over half of those bitter AT&T customers surveyed by Consumer Reports possess an iPhone, which for now remains available only through the much-maligned carrier. The prospect of Apple's super-popular smartphone coming to the Verizon network has long been a hot rumor in tech circles, and early next year the protracted iPhone wait – according to well-placed sources – will end.

"Our survey suggests that an iPhone from Verizon Wireless, which is rumored, could indeed be good news for iPhone fans," said Paul Reynolds, electronics editor for Consumer Reports, in a statement.

Consumer Reports details the winners and losers of its cell phone provider survey in its January 2011 print issue.

•    You've Been Crammed: Verizon to Pay Millions in Refunds for Phantom Data Charges
•    Smartphone Reviews
•    11 iPhone Features You Need to Know About

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